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It will ever be to the glory of England, that, in the 
middle of the nineteenth century, she should have been 
the only impregnable asylum, in Europe, for the exile 
driven from his country by absolutism or usurpation. 
The indomitable energy with which the English people 
have maintained the right of asylum is the more honour- 
able, as they do not espouse the opinions of those they 
harbour, nor think either of countenancing their views 
or encouraging their hopes. How imposing the spectacle 
of a nation, whose genius is so eminently practical, 
running the risk of war rather than condescend to the 
ignoble task of hunting down the homeless ! 

A nd not only is England a safe place of refuge fo r_ 

* Since this preface was written, I grieve to say that the British 
Government has instituted, under manifest pressure, political prosecu- 
tions, which are looked upon with alarm by all enlightened friends of 
Liberty. Still, as I believe that these prosecutions will be condemned by 
juries and rebuked by public opinion in this country, I suffer what I have 
written to stand, and I confidently hope I shall have nothing hereafter to 


every foreigner who, in his native land, has fallen a 
victim to civil discords, but she is, in fact, the last 
sanctuary, in Europe, open to the human mind itself. 

That Louis Bonaparte and other Continental despots 
should stand in fear of plots and conspiracies, is 
natural enough ; but it is not these that are their 
worst terrors. What really alarms and exasperates 
them, is the mere idea that there is in Europe a 
place where their adversaries are enabled to speak out. 
The conspiracy that makes them inwardly tremble 
is that of human thought. They know that all their 
armies and all their treasures are powerless against 
that unrelenting enemy of despotism — fre e speech . 

The attempt by Louis Bonaparte to make political 
capital out of assassination, and to turn Italian venge- 
ance into a pretext for tightening his deadly grasp 
upon France — the finishing blow struck at the press — 
the obliteration of the last remaining vestiges of per- 
sonal liberty — the retrospective. scheme of persecution 
aimed at men already persecuted — the mockery of com- 
pelling universal suffrage to swear fealty for ever to the 
Empire, by one who boasts of being emperor through 
universal suffrage* — the recent division of the whole 

* Everyone knows that it has been recently proposed that no candidate 
for a seat in the legislative body should be permitted to offer himself to the 
electors without swearing allegiance to the Imperial dynasty, which is radi- 
cally inconsistent with the principle of universal suffrage, and a satire upon 
the sovereignty of the people, from which the Empire professes to derive. 


country into five great military districts — Belgium, 
Piedmont, and Switzerland, placed under coercion, and 
the savage crusade preached against a handful of exiles 
— are even more than the necessary development of that 
war to the knife which Louis Bonaparte is doomed to 
wage against unfettered thought ; they are a demon- 
stration never to be forgotten, and a desperate con- 
fession, of his impotence. He feels that some five or 
six harmless refugees having nothing left on earth but 
their pens, and freely w r riting in a London garret what 
they hold to be true, are more powerful than he is at 
the head of four hundred thousand soldiers ; for he 
fears them, and they fear him not. 

Nor is it possible for him to halt in his destined 
track. A sinister logic goads him unmercifully on, 
and he cannot help going all the lengths of tyranny — 
servant of the very soldiers he commands, and, while 
striking terror into others, struck with a worse terror 

England, therefore, cannot expect to be pardoned by 
Louis Bonaparte, whatever may be her policy towards 
the refugees, as long as she shares their guilt, by 
asserting the right of free speech. 

Fortunately, she is strong enough to hold that 
sacred right against all comers. 

Meanwhile, it is no small honour to her that her 
language should be, at this moment, the vernacular of 

viii PREFACE. 

Liberty ; the only language in which freemen of every 
nation can interchange ideas, and print their thoughts 
with any chance of finding a public allowed to read 

These are the reasons why I publish this book in 
English and in England. 

No period in history having been so deplorably 
C_^ misrepresented as the Revolution of February, 1848, 
y more especially in this country, it was my intention to 
\ avail myself of the earliest opportunity to dispel the 
/ clouds which hang over that great event. The oppor- 
/ tunity I was looking for, has just been afforded me 
1 by Lord Nornianby's book, A Year or Revolution 
\ in Paris. 

When the Revolution of February broke out, Lord 
Normanby was in Paris, where he had been sent for 
the special purpose of closely watching the movements 
of French society. Under his eye did those prodigious 
events take place, which made the heart of every op- 
pressed nation throb with hope and joy. All around him 
did the air reverberate with shouts of patriotic enthu- 
siasm, which were re-echoed from one end of the world 
to the other. No very strict investigation was required 
to be apprised of what was thundered out in eacli 
street, of what was done in the Forum by the whole 
people. Yet, strange to say, Lord Normanby seems 
to have seen nothing, to have heard nothing, to have 


known nothing. The spectacle proved, evidently, too 
grand for the spectator. 

The small talk and the second-hand calumnies which 
his lordship has given to the public in the shape of 
historical records, are by no means of a nature to call 
forth a minute or even a serious refutation. Can any 
reflecting mind lay stress upon a book which is a one- 
sided register of idle rumours and unsifted reports ? 

But, unluckily, it is no easy matter for the public at 
large to conceive how a man of high station, who was 
some time the representative of a great nation abroad, 
an ambassador of England, could have ventured to 
publish a work teeming with errors about events which 
he was so well situated to ascertain. From the very 
name of Lord Normanby, and also from the position 
he held in France, it is natural enough to infer that he 
must have known something of what he relates. Here 
is the danger. 

I take it, therefore, to be necessary to show, by 
opposing undeniable testimonies and documents to 
unsupported assertions, how little Lord Normanby is 
to be trusted, either in his statement of facts or his 
delineation of characters. 

Not that I intend to publish a merely polemical 
work, far from it ! To point out in any other way than 
en passant the numerous and really amazing errors the 
noble marquis seems to have fondly cherished, would be 


to attach to his book a degree of importance it does not 
deserve. I will avail myself of its appearance, only as 
affording me an opportunity for sketching, in their 
historical connection and succession, the striking and 
unexampled scenes I was called upon to take part in ; 
leaving others to expose, as far as they are individually 
concerned, his lordship's blunders and misrepresenta- 
tions, but making it a point to repel, with the autho- 
rity of one who was personally involved in the events, 
such false imputations as cast a blemish upon the cause 
I serve, or strike at the honour of my country. 




•'Banquet de Dijon" — The ReTorme and the National — The 
Republicans in Paris — Elections by the People — 24th of 
February, at the Palais Bourbon — Elections at the Palais 
Bourbon — The aspect of the Hotel de Ville — M. de Lamar- 
tine in the Salle St. Jean — First Meeting of the Provisional 
Government — Lord Normanby's " Secretaries " — Real Facts 
of the Election — A Plea against Insults .... 1 — 25 



Proclamation of the Republic Discussed — Sketch of a Proclama- 
tion — The People on the Place de Greve — First Night of the 
Provisional Government — Passing the Barricades . . 26 — 35 



Horror at the Empire — Universal Homage to the Republic — 
Tender of Service from the Marshals — General Changarnier 
— Tender of Service from Louis Bonaparte — MM. Dupin and 
Baroche — Fvineral Service of the victims — What was the 
" Government of Surprise " — Republican Institutions suited 
to France — Louis Bonaparte — Habit of the French Mind — 
Logical process of the French — Monarchy impossible in 
France — Constitutional Monarchy, under Louis Philippe 36 — 64 




No Cry for vengeance — Death for political offences abolished — 
No more Terror — Clement Dispositions of the People — The 
Red Flag — A Rallying Sign — M. de Lamartine and the Red 
Flag— The" Drapeau de l'Ordre " 65—80 



Summons from the People — The " Droit au Travail " decreed — 
Mr. Mill on the "Droit au Travail" — Check on over-popu- 
lation — " Ministere du Progres " — My Resignation refused — 
" Government Labour Commission " appointed — The People 
tranquillised 81—96 



Visit to the Duke de Cazes — Albert — Gloomy forebodings — 
Appeals from Manufacturers — French Revolutionary Motto — 
Cautious Policy of the Luxembourg — Duty and Right- 
Socialist definition of Equality — Visit to Petit Bourg — Power 
of Education curiously illustrated — Fetters on free choice 
of Vocations — The Right Man in the Right Place — Principle 
of Public Grants — Plan Suggested by the Luxembourg — 
Unique Results of Appeals to Intelligence . . . 97 — 126 



Object of the "Government Labour Commission" — Address to 
the Working-men — Meeting of Employers at the Luxem- 
bourg — Committee of Inquiry — The "Impossible Men" — 
A Definition of Power— Admirable feelings of the People of 
p ar i s — The People's Love — Model Lodging-houses — An Anti- 
social conspiracy — Labour Registration Office — Foreign Work- 
men — Friendly Arbitrations — Paris saved from starvation 127 — 155 




Abolition of Imprisonment for Debt — Berard, a Parisian Operative 
— Journeymen-Tailors' Association — System of Equal Wages 
— Working-men's Point of Honour — Disinterestedness of the 
Clichy-workmen — Saddlers' Association — Spinners' Associa- 
tion — The City of Paris and the Workmen — Paris Associations 
— Associations of Cooks — Manoeuvres against the Associations 
— M. Proudhon — Letter to the Associations — "Union of 
Associations" — Correspondence with Berard — Success of the 
Associations — M. Mill on the Co-operative System . 156 — 192 


m. marie's "ateliers nationaux," established against the 

M. Marie's " Ateliers Nationaux " — M. Marie, Minister of Public 
Works— Confessions of M. fimile Thomas — M. Emile Thomas 
and M. Marie — Heroism of the Delegates of the Luxembourg 
— Confessions of M. de Lamartine — National Workshops 

Socialism 193—208 



Foreign Policy of the Provisional Government — Unnatural 
Alliance — Foreign Policy of the Republicans — Attacks on the 
Provisional Government — Treaties of 1815 — M. de Lamar- 
tine's Manifesto — " Italia fara da se " — Irretrievable 
blunder! 209—225 



M. Goudchaux — M. Goudchaux's Resignation — M. Garnier Pages — 
Public Offices of Discount — The Moneyed-men Fracas — Ima- 
ginary Capital — Savings-banks' Deposits — Traits of self-sacri- 
fice in working-men — National Loan proposed — Singular 


Interview with a Banker— Bank of France in extremis — New 
Financial views — Mechanism of Banks — Real guarantee of 
Bank Notes — Proposed National Bank — Possible resources of 
a National Bank — Tax of the "45 centimes" — A Con- 
trast 226—262 



M. Cre'mieux's Administration — Lord Normanby and M. Cre'rnieux 
— M. Shcelcher and the Abolition of Slavery — M. Carnot — 
The Priests — M. Ledru Rollin — Alleged Scene between 
G. Pages and L. Rollin — M. Ledru Rollin's Commissioners — 
M. Ledru Rollin's Opponents — M. Marc Caussidiere — M. De- 
lessert's Letter of Thanks — M. Sobrier's garrison — M. Barbes 
— Procession of Students — Clubs— Liberty of the Press pro- 
tected—Intellectual Effects of the Revolution . . 263—295 



Postponement of the Elections Proposed — Provinces not ripe for 
Universal Suffrage — Petition of People respecting the Elec- 
tions — Characteristic of a Provisional Government — Pro- 
cession of the workmen — Deputies of workmen at the 
Hotel de Ville— Answer to the deputies of the workmen 296 — 310 



Influence of the 17th of March — M. de Lamartine and Lord 
Normanby — Problem to be Solved — Petition of the Working- 
men — M. Cabet's Proclamation — M. Blanqui — The " Rappel " 
— Alleged conspiracy — The Hotel de Ville on the 16th of 
April— The "Mot d'ordro " on the 16th of April— Cry of 
hate— Protest of the working-men— Proclamation of the Pro- 
visional Government — M. de Lamartine and M. Blancpii 311 — 342 




M. Ledru Rollin Calumniated — Accounts of the Provisional 
Government— Calumnies against mc — Official statement — The 
King's carnages — The Provisional Government . . 343 — 354 



" Fete de la Fraternite"'— Military Oath— The French Army— Uni- 
versal Suffrage — M. Ledru Rollin's Circular — Republicanism 
of dignitaries of the Empire — Electoral practices at the 
Hotel de Ville — Electoral Proceedings at the Luxembourg — 
The Delegates of the Luxembourg — M. Pierre Leroux — 
Manoeuvres against the Luxembourg— Elections in Paris — 
M. de Lamartine 355 — 381 



The National Constituent Assembly — Popular Ovation — Solemn 
Acclamation — The " Revolution de la Faim " — Alarming 
reports — The Assembly invaded — Speech addressed to the 
crowd — "The National Assembly is dissolved" — Attempt to 
Assassinate me — Insults to the People of Paris . . 382—402 


louis Bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

Reaction — Leave asked to Prosecute me — Election Returns for 
Paris — Executive Commission and Louis Bonaparte — Inviola- 
bility of Justice, recommended by me — Should there be a 
President of the Republic ? 403—416 



Proposed Dissolution of the National Workshops — Consequences 
of rejecting Socialism — Necessity of recurring to Socialism — 
Commission of the National Workshops — Working Classes' 


Protest against Bonapartism — The Delegates of the Luxem- 
bourg — M. Marie and the Working-men — Lahr, a Bonapartist 
Agent — " Du Pain ou du Plomb" — Audacious Misrepresenta- 
tion of Motives — The Combat in Paris — The Assembly during 
the Struggle — Frightful Reprisals — Generous Acts of the In- 
surgents — False Charges — Legitimists and Bonapartists among 
the Insurgents — Movement of the Provinces against Paris — 
The Archbishop of Paris and General Bre"a — M. Bastide's 
Reputation of Lord Normanby — Blind Vengeance after the 
Fight 417—456 



The Commission of Inquiry — Proceedings of the Commission of 
Inquiry — Perversion of evidence — Lord Normanby's Eight 
Paragraphs — Perversion of my Language — Tacking of a 
blunder to an interpolation — Proceedings of the Commission 
of Inquiry — M. Ledru Rollin and Ge'ne'ral Cavaignac — 
Cavaignac and the Provisional Government — My Defence in 
the Assembly — Sinister Aspect of the Assembly — Ostracism 
Revived — Generous conduct of M. d'Aragon — The High Court 
Instituted — Vengeance Substituted for Justice . . 457 — 485 



Louis Bonaparte after his attempt on Boulogne — Attempt to 
Assassinate me — Mrs. Gordon — My visit to Louis Bonaparte at 
Ham — Conversation with Louis Bonaparte — A Promenade on 
the rampart of Ham — My departure from Ham — Louis Bona- 
parte in London — Louis Bonaparte's pi'etended Socialism — 
A Strange meeting— Letter from Count D'Orsay . 486 — 507 


The "Rue de Poitiers" — Communism — Suicidal Blunders — How 

Society was Saved — The Genius of France . . 508—517 




Louis Philippe was a prince gifted with many 
good qualities. His domestic virtues were such as to 
command respect. He was by no means wanting in 
enlightened perceptions. Both from a disposition 
naturally merciful, and from a philosophical notion of 
the value of human life, he was so averse to shedding 
blood, that his ministers were sure to meet with an 
almost desperate resistance on his part, whenever they 
asked him to affix his signature to a sentence of death. 
Upon the whole, he was a man of remarkably sober 
character. Nor did Liberty, under his reign, receive 
any mortal wound. In times of foreign and internal 
difficulties, he succeeded in warding off imminent dan- 
gers, and the middle classes were indebted to him for 
the repose they so dearly prized. 

Still, when the hour of his doom struck, no wish was 
expressed for his crown's preservation; no helping hand 


was held out to him; the moneyed classes kept aloof; 
the soldiers either refused to fight or fought reluctantly; 
for the first time, the shopkeepers seemed to have for- 
gotten that revolutions are bad for trade; the most 
active part of the National Guard actually countenanced 
the insurrection ; the old King, looking around him, 
and seeing nothing but a dreary solitude, became 
disheartened, and a government which had lasted no 
less than seventeen years was overthrown by a touch. 

How is such a phenomenon to be accounted for ? In 
my " History of Ten Years," the reader will find the 
causes explained and the result foretold. Of these 
causes, the most effective lay in Louis Philippe's utter I 
inability to comprehend all that there was of chivalrous 
and elevated in the genius of France. To the meaner 
principles of action he applied for support. Bribery 
was his principal engine of government. He fostered 
the blind fears of the bourgeoisie, and took pleasure in 
nursing selfishness. His policy was systematically 
inimical to anything like a generous hope or a noble 
impulse. Not only did he struggle against all efforts 
originating in the spirit of improvement, but it was his 
constant endeavour to make the nation, if possible, 
after his own image ; that is, greedy of gain, true only 
to the debasing worship of the cash-box, heedless of the 
past, and faithless in the future. Even what happened 
to be good in his policy was done through objectionable 
means, and everyone knows that it was only by wound- 
ing beyond measure in the heart of the French the 
feeling of national self-importance, that he succeeded in 
averting the calamities of war. So completely had he 


stifled around him all promptings of devotedness and 
disinterested attachment, that these supreme resources 
proved wanting when needed ; so that he may verily be 
said to have been the sole artificer of his own ruin. 

The fact is, that, two months before the downfall of 
Louis Philippe, it had become quite certain that the 
Democratic party was about to appear, in its turn, 
on the public stage, and to take possession of it 

This was made obvious by the " banquet de Dijon/' 
whose news spread all over France with the rapidity of 
lightning. There, in an immense hall, decorated with 
flags and devices symbolic of liberty, in the presence of 
thirteen hundred guests — operatives, manufacturers, 
tradesmen, magistrates — words reverberated ; which M. 
de Lamartine, seized with short-sighted terror, termed 
the " tocsin of opinion." At Lille, M. Ledru Rollin 
had previously said : 

" Sometimes, the stagnant pools of the dried-up Nile, 
and the detritus in a state of decomposition on its 
banks, engender epidemics ; but let the flood return, 
the river, in its impetuous course, will sweep away all 
these impurities, and will deposit on its borders germs 
of fecundity and re-awakened life." * 

These audacious allusions were repeated by MM. 
Ledru Rollin and Flocon at the " banquet de Dijon " 
without exciting surprise, so thoroughly was the idea 
of an impending revolution present to every mind. 
And, for the same reason, no one took exception to this 
passage of my speech — prophecy and menace : 

* Cornpte-rendu du lanquct de Lille. 

b 2 


" The power which but yesterday seemed so vigorous, 
sinks under its own weight, without even being pushed. 
An invisible will goes on its way through the highest 
regions of society, sowing degrading catastrophes. 
Unexpected acts of insanity, shameful disasters, unac- 
countable suicides, crimes to make the hair stand on 
end, come, one after another, stunning public opinion 
into stupor. Then, that Society, apparently so pros- 
perous, becomes agitated ; it wonders at the mys- 
terious virus which it feels running through its veins. 
' Corruption ' is the cry of the day ; and everyone 
exclaims : l That such things should last any longer, is 
impossible ; what will to-morrow bring ? ; Gentlemen, 
when the fruit is rotten, it only needs a breath of wind 
to shake it from the tree." 

This was said towards the end of December ; and at 
the end of February, hardly two months after, the blast 
had come which blew down the monarchy. 

The circumstances connected with the downfall of 
Louis Philippe being generally known, I will enter at 
once upon my subject by explaining how the Provisional 
Government was established. -■ 

At that period, ItKrjlejfiiDTican party/ numerically 
inferior in the provinces, was prevalent in Paris. Its 
accredited organs were the Nationql^and the Reforme ; 
the latter paper being more acceptable to the workmen, 
on account of its social tendencies, whilst the other, 
merely political, had a stronger hold on the middle 
classes. M. Marrast was the editor of the National. 
The Reforme was edited by M. Flocon, and superin- 
tended by a committee, the members of which were 


MM. Ledru Rollin, Schselcher, Gurnard, Pascal Duprat, 
Ribeyrolles, and myself. 

My most dear and most lamented friend, Godefroy 
Cavaignac, had belonged to that committee, but he was 
dead when the Revolution of February broke out : 
a loss which was considered by us all as a national 
calamity. For he was a man of vast acquirements and 
sound parts, endowed with indomitable courage, and far 
superior in every respect to General Cavaignac, his 
brother. Had he lived longer, there is no doubt what- 
ever that he would have been one of the Provisional 
Government, wherein his presence might have turned 
the scale in favour of a true Republic. 

This loss, however, great as it was, did not so impair 
the republican party as to prevent its growing from day 
to day more powerful. Unfortunately, at the end of 
January, 1848, the disagreement between the Reforme 
and the National happened to swell into embittered 
polemics ; so that, on the break out of the Revolution, 
the republicans might have failed to remain masters 
of the field, had not the necessity of acting in common 
been felt on both sides. I was, therefore, appointed by 
the Reforme, on the 24th of February, to negotiate a 
reconciliation, M. Martin (de Strasbourg), a distin- 
guished barrister, having been chosen by the National 
to the same effect. 

The situation was one of extraordinary enthusiasm 
mingled with dangerous excitement. The passions let 
loose by the struggle were still burning. The aspect of 
Paris was terrible. Here and there infuriated groups 
were seen emerging from behind the barricades* 


boastful of the blood which stained their dress, flou- 
rishing muskets, swords, hatchets or pikes, and shouting 
fiercely: A bas les Bourbons ! The palace of the Tuileries 
had just been invaded, amidst an unparalleled tempest 
formed by the threatening clamours of the combatants, 
the uproar of the rushing multitudes, the beating of 
drums, the shots incessantly fired, the fits of laughing 
and the loud jests in which, on any such occasion, the 
gamins de Paris are wont to indulge. As to the par- 
ticulars which marked the invasion of the royal abode, 
I know nothing more than what any one could, at the 
time, pick up from flying reports. But it is a matter 
of public notoriety that some sat down at card-tables 
and began in joke to bet the millions of the Civil list ; 
that many a jolly fellow delighted in putting on the 
rich velvet dressing gowns which had been worn by 
princely personages ; that two insurgents whose firelocks 
lay beside them on the ground, were noticed playing at 
chess with a fixed look and uninterrupted attention, 
despite the deafening turmoil. " Marquis/'' asked a 
facetious companion to a youth who held in his 
hands a plan of Neuilly, "what are you about?" 
"Viscount," replied the lad, " I am examining the plan 
of my estates." By superficial minds, these apparently 
trifling incidents may be deemed to have no other 
import than to show the levity so complacently ascribed 
to the French. But those who do not judge of the 
inside by the outside will easily perceive through all 
this the deep-rooted love of equality which is the true 
characteristic of the French nation. 
Under such circumstances, M. Martin (de Strasbourg) 


and I concurred in thinking that this was not the 
proper time for handling the abstruse questions which 
the Revolution was likely to start. The main point 
was t o insure the_ trhnnj)h of the. Republic by baffling 
the intrigues of petty parliamentary coteries on one 
hand, and by preventing, on the other, the wild 
confusion into which the general rush towards the 
unknown could not fail to plunge everything, in the 
absence of all regular direction. Two great evils were 
to be averted : despotism and anarchy, for anarchy is 
nothing better than a tumultuous despotism. An 
immediate selection of united leaders was therefore 
required ; and although the republicanism of M. de 
Lamartine, a new convert, seemed somewhat unsteady ; 
although rumours had already become current about 
the support which M. Garnier Pages might possibly 
be disposed to give to the Regency of the Duchess 
of Orleans, the influence of such men over the middle 
classes certainly deserved to be taken into serious con- 
sideration. Subsequent events have shown, indeed, 
that alliances of this kind are fraught with impediments 
and perils. But it must be borne in mind that the 
republican party, however strong in Paris, was far from 
being able to get the mastery in the provinces. The 
middle classes contained a considerable number of 
republicans, sincere though timid, whom it was impolitic 
to frighten out of our ranks. Moreover, the situation 
was dreadfully unsettled, and the morrow overcast with 
clouds. To bring a man like M. de Lamartine to 
commit himself irrevocably in the service of the j 
Republic was considered a stroke of sound policy, and 


even now. I do not think the step we took would have 
roved a fatal one, had it not been made so by an 
astounding concurrence of unfavourable circumstances, 
which it was then impossible for any one to foresee. 

So, jit was determined that M. de Lamartine should 
rank with the republican leaders. 

The exertions of M. Martin (de Strasbourg) and my ' 
own having been attended with full success, the two 
leading papers of the republican party came to an 
understanding, the result of which was the adoption in 
common of a list to be presented to the people. 

It is singular — and this is one of the most peculiar 
features of the Parisians — how an intuitive perception 
of the necessity of order combines in their character 
with occasional outbursts of turbulence. One may think 
it wonderful, still it is perfectly true, that Paris never 
witnessed a rising in which the insurgents did not pre- 
serve, all through, a sense of discipline, and an almost 
uneasy preoccupation of the immediate consequences. 
In June, for instance, in those formidable days of June, 
the fact was ascertained that the insurgents, while 
fighting desperately, were busy writing down, on the 
very stones of the barricades stained with their blood, 
the names of a Provisional Government. 

So, on the 24th of February, scarcely was the fight 
at an end, when the people flocked from every quarter 
to the offices of both Republican papers, in quest of a 
central direction. 

An immense crowd surrounded the office of the 
Reforme, the smallest part of which was pent up to 
suffocation in the court of the Hotel Bullion, while the 


rest overflowed the neighbouring streets, and more 
especially the street of Jean Jacques Rousseau. A sort 
of considerate anxiety was visible in everyone's counte- 
nance. The only shout sent forth was Vive la Repub- 
lique ! — a shout which grew tremendous, but gradually 
dwindled into solemn silence, when I made my appear- 
ance at a window, holding a paper in my hand. Then 
it was that I read the following list, which had been 
agreed to by the Reforme and the National : — 






The utterance of these names was hailed with loud 
acclamations, quickly succeeded by a general cry: 
^AJbertJ_4lbert ! 

Albert had never been considered as a political leader. 
Still less had he ever entertained any hope or desire of 
being chosen as such. He was a mechanic. Amongst 
us, he was but little known personally. For my part, I 
had never seen him. But his uprightness, both of 
heart and mind, his unbounded devotion to the cause 
of the people, the disinterested fervour of his convictions, 
his unassuming manners, his courage, had endeared him 
to the workmen. To them the presence of a man of 
that stamp in the Provisional Government was a token 
that no measure would be taken without being anxiously 
scrutinised, and, if prejudicial to their interests, strenu- 
ously opposed. Moreover, what could be better calcu- 
lated to mark the commencement of a new era — what 


could inaugurate in a more striking way the official 
acknowledgment of the rights of labour, than this 
previously unheard-of rising of a workman to a post of 
the highest eminence ? I took up a pen ; I wrote down 
the name of Albert with a feeling of deep emotion, and, 
hastening to the office of the National, I had there no 
difficulty in getting the name added to the list, which 
was immediately circulated all over Paris, and hap- 
pened, as regards the other names, to agree with those 
which emanated from every other popular centre of 
action, save that on some the name of M. Recurt, 
afterwards Minister of the Interior, and very popular 
then in the Faubourg St. Antoine, figured in the place 
of the names of Cremieux or Gamier Pages. 

On my returning to the office of the Reforme, I found 
the same crowd still remaining, and quite in a fit of 
indignation, as intelligence had been brought that, 
in the Chamber of Deputies, the partisans of the 
Regency were claiming for the child of the Duchess of 
Orleans that throne which the flight of Louis Philippe 
had left empty, and which, carried away from the palace 
of the Tuileries, was, just at that moment, triumphantly 
paraded about by some of the insurgents. 

They cried out, " The Chamber of Deputies has no 
longer any legal power. It belonged to that system of 
corruption and national debasement we have pulled to 
pieces. Must so much blood have been shed in vain? 
Are we to submit anew to the worn-out monarchical 
yoke ? A has la Regence ! A has les Corrompus ! " Les 
Corrompus ! Such was, under the rule of Louis Philippe, 
the popular designation of the Chamber of Deputies. 


Whereupon, some made their way to the Palais 
Bourbon, with a view to put an end to any further dis- 
cussion of the pretended rights of the Duchess of 
Orleans, whilst the other hurried away M. Flocon and 
myself to the Hotel de Ville. 

As I did not attend the sitting of the Chamber of 
Deputies on the 24th of February, I will not stop to 
give a circumstantial account of what took place there* 
But this much I will say, there being no discrepancy on 
these points between the various testimonies : — 

That there was hardly a semblance of regular discus- 
sion at the Palais Bourbon ; 

That the deputies soon showed themselves conscious 
of their disqualification for settling the nation, which 
M. de la Bochejaquelein stated in this most impressive 
manner : " To-day, Gentlemen, you are nothing ; " 

That, despite the presence, and the dignified, touching 
attitude of the Duchess of Orleans, who stood there, 
holding her two children by the hand, the efforts of 
MM. Dupin, Sauzet, and Odilon Barrot in her favour, 
proved miserably abortive ; 

That the true situation could not be more accurately 
described than in the words of M. Thiers, when rushing 
on a sudden into the house, his face pale, his coat all 
in rags, he exclaimed : ft Gentlemen, the tide is coming 
in ! The tide is coming in ! " 

In fine, that the Chamber of Deputies, as such, 
arrived at no conclusion whatever. 

For, the moment anything like a decision was taken, 
the Chamber of Deputies had ceased to exist, even 
materially, so to speak ; armed bands had tumultuously 


invaded the hall; M. Sauzet, the President, had disap- 
peared like a phantom ; most of the deputies, struck 
with terror, had stolen away ; the Duchess of Orleans, 
no longer able to face the storm, had been respectfully 
compelled to retire ; and the tribune was occupied by 
Captain Dunoyer, who, waving the tricolor flag with 
one handand brandishing his sabre with the other, had 
already proclaimed the sovereignty of the people. Well 
might then M. Ledru Rollin say : " What we want is a 
Provisional Government elected by the people — not by 
the Chamber" 

Now, let it be remembered, that M. de Lamartine 
had hitherto refrained from expressing any opinion 
whatever, as if on the look-out to ascertain the direction 
of the wind. He did not make up his mind to support 
the proposition of a Provisional Government before it 
became obvious that it was much more advisable to 
follow than to stem the torrent. Nor was it by him 
that the list was read, which contained the names of 
Dupont (de PEure), Lamartine, Ledru Rollin, Marie, 
Gamier Pages, Cremieux.* 

Here I will pause to point out one of the innumerable 
and really surprising misstatements of Lord Normanby. 
His lordship says : 

" The names written down by Lamartine could not 
be heard when read from the President's chair by poor 
old Dupont (de TEure). He transferred the list to the 

* See, about the sitting of the 24th of February, the Moniteur, the 
"History of the Revolution of February," by M. Robin, the "History of 
the Revolution of February," by M. Delvau, and the very clever work 
published on the same subject by Countess d'Agoult, under the name of 
Daniel Stern. 


person standing next to him, who, having a weak voice, 
was equally inaudible. As it was important no time 
should be lost, these names were then given to M. 
Cremieux, who has the lungs of Stentor, and he added 
his own name, which was, amidst all the confusion, 
adopted with the others." * 

Lord Normanby wrote this on the 26th of February, 
so it appears from his own book. Well, on the 26th of 
February, the account of the Moniteur was in the hands 
of every human being in Paris, — with the exception of 
Lord Normanby, it must be presumed — and there was 
not even a concierge in Paris who did not know what 
the ambassador of England was ignorant of, namely, 
that the list proposed at the Palais Bourbon on the 
24th of February, had been read by Ledru Rollin, and 
not by M. Cremieux, who has by no means the lungs of 
Stentor, and was not, at all events, entitled on that 
score to serve as a speaking-trumpet. 

True it is, however, that the names were read amidst 
such confusion as to render the adoption of them a 
matter of doubt. At any rate, the list met with a 
strong opposition, as far as the names of MM. Marie 
and Grarnier Pages were concerned. f 

From these uncontradicted facts two consequences 
may be inferred. 

First, the list of the Palais Bourbon was of no more 
value, in a parliamentary sense, than that which the 
people adopted at the offices of the Reforme and the 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i., p. 129. 
+ See the Moniteur and the above-mentioned books. 


In the second place, M. de Lamartine must have 
been under the impression of a strangely delusive 
dream, when he went so far as to write : " Lamartine 
had only to drop a word to get the Regency imme- 
diately proclaimed. He had only to say to the duchess 
and her sons, rise ! " * How prodigious the deceptions 
incident to self- admiring genius ! The truth is, that, 
in the triumphal pomp of the Republic, the poet who 
had burnt so much incense on the altars of kingship, 
was dragged among the vanquished, and it was for no 
other purpose than better to exhibit as a public spec- 
tacle that illustrious captive, that the Republic allowed 
him to sit behind her on the car of triumph. 

The Hotel de Ville having been made, in Paris, the 
appointed place for the consecration of all revolutionary 
powers, as Rheims was once the appointed town for the 
coronation of kings, MM. de Lamartine, Ledru Rollin, 
and the others did not fail to go thither, and they had 
already reached the traditional spot, when I arrived 
there with M. Flocon. 

There was something fearful to behold in the display 
of the revolutionary power around the Hotel de Ville. 
The Greve was so overcrowded, that it would have 
been utterly impossible for us to get through, had not 
the general and spontaneous acceptance of the list 
emanating from the united republican papers invested 
our names with a sort of magical power. Not only did 
the crowd open as we went on, but it so happened that 
some robust workmen, fearing lest I should be crushed, 

* Histoire de la Revolution de 18-1S, par A. de Lamartine, vol. i., 
p. 132. Brussels, 1849. 


on account of my diminutive stature, lifted me up and 
carried me on their shoulders to the Hotel de Ville, 
crying out, "Make room for a member of the Pro- 
visional Government to pass ! " Thus I was enabled 
to reach the staircase, which overflowed with rolling 
waves of men, divided into two opposite streams. For 
an uninterrupted communication had been established, 
and was kept up between a great popular meeting held 
in the Salle Saint Jean, and the multitude out of doors, 
so that the decisions taken by the meeting could be 
made instantly known to the whole mass of the people, 
the only possible way of imparting to such decisions 
some character of regularity. 

A sense of decorum, hardly credible under such 
circumstances, prevailed in the Salle Saint Jean, 
despite occasional bursts of indignation or enthusiasm. 
But outside, all along the lobbies and in the courts of 
the Hotel de Ville, there was, of course, a Babel of 
uproar and conflicting clamours. Some shouted in- 
cessantly, Vive la Republique ! Others, with a most 
extraordinary mixture of candid enthusiasm and 
menacing frenzy, chanted the Marseillaise. The 
courts, encumbered with horses riderless, wounded 
men lying on straw, half- distracted lookers-on ; wild 
speakers, soldiers in rags, and workmen waving flags, 
presented the threefold sight of a field hospital, a field 
of battle, and a camp. 

It was growing dark. I was shown into the Salle 
Saint Jean, whither all the members of the Provisional 
Government had to repair, in order to declare their 
principles, and to have their election sanctioned by 


popular suffrage, if found worthy of the trust committed 
to them. 

On entering the hall, I learnt that the neces- 
sary trial had just been undergone by MM. Ledru 
Rollin, Gamier Pages, Dupont (de FEure), Arago, and 

M. Ledru Rollin, on being asked whether he thought 
he held his powers from the Chamber of Deputies, 
answered peremptorily in the negative, and his speech 
was hailed with repeated cheers. 

M. Gamier Pages met with a somewhat different 
reception, owing to the fact that he was supposed to 
lean to the side of the Regency. Nevertheless, he was 
elected Mayor of Paris, but it remained doubtful 
whether his name ought to be struck out from the 
popular list as a member of the Provisional Government. 

Out of regard for the advanced age of Dupont (de 
TEure), for his unequalled probity and his well- 
known adherence to republican principles, the meeting 
would relieve him from making any declaration of 
opinions. The venerable old man insisted on doing so, 
through a lively perception of what he considered to be 
a duty. But he could only utter a few words. Over- 
powered by emotion, and physical fatigue, he turned 
pale, almost fainted, and was helped out amidst the 
most touching marks of universal concern. 

The health of M. Francois Arago had been seriously 
impaired for months. He had no speech to deliver and 
was allowed to withdraw, after a very short appearance. 

It was now for M. de Lamartine to come to a decisive 
conclusion. Strikingly cautious and involved was his 


exordium. He said that the question to be solved was 
one of paramount importance, one which the nation 
would naturally be called upon to examine, and which 
he, Lamartine, did not mean to prejudge. These words 
gave rise to a violent tumult. A tremendous shout of 
Vive la Republique ! shook the walls of the building. 
Laviron, the same undaunted man who afterwards was 
killed on the walls of Rome, whilst fighting for the 
Roman Republic, protested in a most spirited manner 
against any attempt to cheat the people of what they had 
so dearly paid for. The warning was clear enough. 
M. de Lamartine resumed his speech, but he took great 
care to deviate by degrees from the path he had got into, 
and he concluded by declaring for the Republican form 
of Government, whereupon he was warmly applauded. 

Such are the circumstances with which I was made 
acquainted by several members of the meeting, and 
M. de Lamartine had just left the hall, when I came in. 
I wore the uniform, once unpopular, of a National 
Guard; but the National Guards having now, not only 
refrained from resisting, but openly countenanced the 
insurrection, their uniform was sure to be welcome. 
Dusk had given way to night, and the armed Areopagus 
stood haughty and stern in the mingled light of tapers 
and torches reflected from a forest of guns. 

It has always been my opinion that the Republican 
form of Government is not the sole object to be aimed 
at, even by the politicians of the Republican school, if 
their love for the commonwealth be sincere and dis- 
interested. For there is no form of government which 
may not be used as a weapon against the interests of 


the community. How often did the name of Republic 
serve only to mask oppression and to gild tyranny ! 
On the 24th of February, I could certainly not foresee 
that, under the Republican form of Government, the 
blood of the people would be poured forth in torrents ; 
that General Cavaignac, a republican, would order the 
transportation sans jugement et en masse, and would 
allow Paris to be a prey to all the horrors of a savage 
resentment; that Louis Bonaparte, the president of the 
French Republic, would send soldiers to Rome, there 
to crush the Roman Republic. No such things could 
be anticipated. But to me the history of the past was 
a sufficient testimony. I believed then, as I do now, 
that the chief object to be aimed at is to make him 
that works enjoy the fruits of his work, to restore to 
the dignity of human nature those whom the excess of 
poverty degrades ; to enlighten those whose intelligence, 
from want of education, is but a dim vacillating lamp 
in the midst of darkness ; in one word to enfranchise 
the people, by endeavouring to abolish this double 
slavery ; — ignorance and misery ! A very arduous task, 
indeed, whose accomplishment requires much study on 
the part of the leaders, much wisdom and power of 
endurance on the part of the people ; a task which 
cannot possibly be performed except by a slow, gradual 
progress, but which it is the right and the lot of every 
generous mind to contemplate. 

These were the principles I laid down. M. Flocon 
made a speech to the same effect. We said we were 
confident that Albert, whom we had not yet seen, 
would give us an effective support in the Provisional 


Government. Vive la Republique sociale ! shouted the 
Assembly. A workman rose, who in plain, straight- 
forward language, congratulated us on having set the 
question in its proper light, and our election was con- 
firmed by loud acclamations. 

To avoid being disturbed by the still raging tempest, 
MM. Dupont (de TEure), Arago, Lamartine, and Ledru 
Rollin, had retired to a remote room, where MM. Marie, 
Gamier Pages, Marrast and Cremieux, hastened to 
join them, and it was not without difficulty that we 
succeeded in finding them out, through the winding 
passages of the Hotel de Ville. Some five or six pupils 
of the Polytechnic School, sword in hand, kept sentry at 
the door. They presented arms to us, and we entered 
the sanctuary. 

The scene was one deserving of notice : M. de Lamar- 
tine looked radiant, M. Ledru Rollin resolute, M. 
Cremieux excited, M. Marie suspicious and gloomy. The 
face of M. Dupont (de TEure) betrayed a feeling of 
noble resignation. M. Marrast had on his lips his usual 
inquisitive smile. M. Gamier Pages seemed rather out 
of countenance. As to M. Arago, how uneasy he was ! 
How different from himself! Had not his declining 
health accounted for his depression of spirits, the 
change would have been inconceivable. He had been 
an intimate friend of mine for about six years ; far from 
objecting to my political views, he was known to be 
one of my warmest eulogists ; more than once, before 
taking a decisive step, he had condescended to ask my 
advice, with a degree of confidence of a nature to put 
me to embarrassment, as I felt it was not for me to 

c 2 


counsel a man so much older than I was. How he 
happened to alter his mind in the space of a few hours 
is more than I can make out. Certain it is that, on 
the 24th of February, as soon as he saw me, he became 
disconcerted, and began to question the validity of those 
elections which had not been carried at the Palais 
Bourbon. I need not say that the matter dropt im- 
mediately. " Come ! Come ! " exclaimed M. Gamier 
Pages, "the Provisional Government must of necessity 
be divided into various departments. It cannot do with- 
out good penmen ; " and, pointing to MM. Marrast, 
Flocon, and myself, he dropt in his familiar, easy way 
the word Secretaries. We attached no importance 
whatever to the designation, which seemed to refer only 
to our professional habits. Nor was it the proper time 
for clinging to petty personal pretensions and disputing 
about trifles, when we had to look to public interests, 
in a most formidable emergency. The main point was, 
that our opinion should fall into the scale with its full 
weight, and such was the case. From the very moment 
anything came under deliberation, all of us were 
called upon to decide, on a footing of perfect equality. 
It must even be remarked, as will be seen in the sub- 
sequent chapter, that the three persons who, in the 
evening of the 24th of February, set on the Council to 
pledge themselves to the service of the "Republic officially 
and irrevocably, were M. Ledru Rollin, M. Flocon, and 

Now, let the reader glance at the Fac Simile * of the 
first proclamation signed by the Provisional Govern- 

See the Appendix No. 1 . 


ment ; he will find that my signature, as affixed to the 
original document, is followed by no such designation 
as that of secretary, which was added, I know not by 
whom, in the printed copy of the Moniteur. 

Be this as it may, the decrees which appeared in 
the Moniteur of the 25th of February, led the public 
naturally to think that the position of MM. Marrast, 
Flocon, Louis Blanc, and Albert, was one of a subor- 
dinate character. The fact was viewed in the light of 
a manoeuvre by the most ardent Republicans. The 
workmen grew indignant at the supposition that their 
will, so clearly expressed, had been disregarded, and 
that underhand attempts were already made to weaken 
the influence of those by whom they thought their 
cause was more especially represented. The conse- 
quences might have been terrible. Everyone, in the 
Provisional Government, became sensible of the danger: 
so, "the adjunct of secretaries," the very moment it 
appeared in the Moniteur, that is, in the morning of 
the 25th, hardly a few hours after the Provisional 
Government had met for the first time, was put aside, 
without discussion, without even a word uttered on 
the subject, and quite as a matter of course. Nor was 
it ever again employed in any document or publication 
issued by the Provisional Government since their first 
^ hurried meeting. 

This is my answer to the question put by Lord 
Normanby to M. de Lamartine, on the 13th of March: 
" How the original government of seven had become 

* " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i., p. 223. 


And what was, according to Lord Normanby's own 
statement, the answer of M. de Lamartine ? 

" M. de Lamartine said that was a question he could 
not ansAver precisely. The four others had been named 
secretaries, and as such had signed the decrees near 
the bottom of the page ; that little by little they crept 
up and mixed themselves with the others ; the adjunct 
of secretaries was then omitted, and they came to have 
a consultative voice with those first named." To which 
the Marquis of Normanby adds the reflection : " This 
certainly is a most original specimen of popular 

I beg your pardon, my Lord. This certainly is a 
most original specimen of gross misstatement, nothing 
more. That M. de Lamartine should have ventured to 
say, and Lord Normanby to repeat, that the "four 
others crept up little by little and mixed themselves 
with the others," is to me a matter of inexpressible 
astonishment. Should any one, among the readers of 
these pages, be anxious to know how boldly history can 
be falsified by official personages, I request him, the 
first time he goes to the British Museum, to ask for 
the Moniteur (Feb. 1848). There he will see that the 
decrees published in the Moniteur of the 26th, and 
consequently signed on the 25th, that is on the very 
morrow of the formation of the Provisional Govern- 
ment, which took place on the 24th, late in the evening, 
were all signed, not as secretaries but as members of 
the said government, by "the four others," whom it is, 
therefore, an inconceivable error to represent "creeping 
up little by little." 


Nor is it less curious to observe that, us early as the 
"27th, the name of Albert, one of those who " crept up 
little by little" figured, for a special purpose, and — 
mark it well — at the very request of the "seven others," 
quite at the head of the list. * . . . 

Now, who could ever believe, were not the fact 
asserted by Lord Normanby himself, that, as late as 
March 13, he, the then ambassador of England, was 
totally ignorant of the manner in which the Provisional 
Government had been formed three weeks before? 
Who could believe that, as late as March 13, he had to 
ask M. de Lamartine how " the original government of 
seven had become eleven ? " 

What ! On the 21th of February, five or six lists 
had been circulated all over Paris, placarded every- 
where, spoken of by everyone, canvassed in eveiy 
street ; and Lord Normanby, as late as March 1 3, did 
not know that on those lists drawn up wherever there 
was a popular centre, in the faubourgs by the workmen, 
in the Ecole de Medecine, and the Ecole de Droit by the 
students, in the Republican newspaper offices by the 
journalists, the names of the four had been written 
down as members of the Provisional Government on 
the same footing with 'the names of the seven! Nor 
was Lord Normanby aware, as late as March 13, that 
in the evening of the 24th of February, an immense 
meeting composed of National Guards, artists, students, 

* See the Moniteur of the 28th, in which appeared the decrees signed 
the day before. 

The reason why Albert, on the 27th, was requested by the very 
members of <the majority to put his name at the head of the list will be 
hereafter explained. 


workmen, writers, citizens belonging to all classes and 
conditions, was "held at the Hotel de Ville, in the Salle 
Saint Jean, for the express purpose of giving the 
members of the new government the sanction of popular 
suffrage ; that there the leaders whose names had figured 
on the lists were summoned to appear and to make a 
declaration of principles, before being invested with 
any authority at all, and that, in this Assembly of the 
people, the names of the four were proclaimed with the 
most fervid enthusiasm, whereas some among the names 
of the seven were objected to, and, almost reluctantly, 

Had his lordship lived in the moon, he could not 
have remained a more perfect stranger to the events, 
of which, nevertheless, he gives us so confident an 

As to the spirit that breathes in every page of his 
book, I will not stop to bring it under discussion. I 
leave to those more closely acquainted than I am with 
diplomatic usages and etiquette, to decide whether it be 
fit for an ambassador to speak in the following refined 
terms of a foreign government, whose members enter- 
tained with his country through his own medium the 
most amicable relations : 

" It appears to be as easy to filch a share of a soi- 
disant popular dictatorship as to forge an acceptance, 
or to pick a pocket."* 

This is simply an insult levelled at the French nation, 
and I trust every well-educated and true Englishman 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i., p. 224. 


will be ashamed to read any such lines in a book pub- 
lished by an ambassador of England. 

Moreover, in my humble opinion, to be appointed 
ambassador by a Prime Minister, owing to high family 
connections, or, perhaps, to mere official intimacies, 
is something more easy than to become member of a 
Provisional Government, by attracting the eyes and 
winning the patriotic affection of about two hundred 
thousand men as clever and keen as the Parisians are 
known to be. At all events, the fact of coming forward 
in stormy hours, at the peril of one's life, and with a 
certainty to have deadly enmities to encounter, for no 
other purpose than to save a great nation, both from 
the grasp of despotism and the flood of anarchy, can 
hardly arise out of a low, vulgar ambition ; and a man 
is really to be pitied who was not able to find in his 
own heart a motive, if not for sympathising with such 
as acted so, at least for doing them justice. I will not 
insist. Nor do I feel inclined to retort upon Lord 
Normanby the insulting expressions with which he has 
thought proper to adorn his style. Being neither a 
nobleman nor a diplomatist, I am sensible that it is 
no privilege of mine to use language unbecoming a 




The first problem to be solved was this : Should the 
Republic be proclaimed or not ? 

MM. Ledru Rollin, Flocon, and myself, were de- 
cidedly of opinion that it should be. MM. Dupont 
(de l'Eure), Arago, and Marie, objected to this view. 
M. de Lamartine inclined to our side. MM. Gamier 
Pages, Marrast, and Cremieux seemed to grope about 
for a middle course. 

Even now, I am at a loss to comprehend how a 
discussion of this sort could spring up ; for almost all 
the members of the Provisional Government were 
Republicans, and they had certainly been elected as 

Moreover, the people, both inside and outside the 
Hotel de Ville, might be easily stirred to indignation 
by the delay, and some among the leaders had been 
heard to cry out " Treason ! " 

It must be stated, in justice to the Provisional 
Government, that fear for their lives affected none of 
them. None of them felt chill and faltering at heart. 
In none of them was the sacred voice of duty stifled by 
a slavish sense of despondency. The uneasiness and 


the hesitation which some of them exhibited, had no 
other source than a more or less clear perception of the 
dangers that their country might incur. 

MM. Dupont (de l'Eure), Arago, and Marie, opposed 
the immediate proclamation of the Republic, from a 
scruple of forestalling the will of the whole nation. 

They said : 

" Paris is not France. The very principle of the 
sovereignty of the people implies that we should have 
recourse to universal suffrage, before we take any deci- 
sion on so momentous a subject as the proclamation 
of a new form of government. We must mind, also, 
not to feed anew that feeling of jealousy which the chief 
provincial cities and towns have been taught to entertain 
towards Paris. Should we proclaim the Republic, under 
the pressure of a population in a state of transitory 
excitement, the Royalists would be supplied with, a pre- 
text to represent the Republic as a mere accident — 
as the result of a surprise ; and its moral influence 
would be thus considerably weakened in the eyes of 

These arguments were met in this way by M. Ledru 
Rollin, Flocon, and myself : 

" It is not absolutely true that Paris is not France. 
Whether the irresistible preponderance imparted to 
Paris by the present system of centralisation be an evil 
or not, is not the question we have here to examine. 
The fact is, that as all enlightened and influential men 
flock incessantly to Paris from every part of France, 
Paris, in reality, is the point of confluence at which the 
various streams of provincial interest or intelligence 


meet, there to combine, as it were, into a mighty basin. 
France speaks through Paris, if by France we are to 
understand that which expresses her true instincts, and 
constitutes her genius. A Republic being that form of 
government which depends upon the national will, and 
derives from the national will alone, regularly and 
unmistakeably expressed, its legitimacy as well as its 
existence, — contrary to a monarchy, which rests upon the 
hereditary principle, and avails itself of the tacit, that 
is, the supposed, consent of the people, — it is evident 
that Sovereignty of the People and Republicanism are 
convertible terms. The whole nation assembled could 
not possibly reject the Republican form of government 
without forfeiting its own sovereignty — without com- 
mitting suicide — nay, without] encroaching in the most 
iniquitous manner upon the rights of the generations 
to come : whence the conclusion that, in proclaiming 
the Republic, Paris does what France could not undo 
by way of universal suffrage without destroying uni- 
versal suffrage itself in its very essence. So much for 
the theory. As to the practice, what more dangerous, 
under the circumstances, than to leave the question 
unsettled? It would be to put all interests in sus- 
pense, to let loose all anarchical passions, to encourage 
all ambitious desires, and to give scope for action 
to intriguers of every party. Besides, is it in our 
power to baffle the hopes and to counteract the will of 
those who have made us what we are? Do you not 
hear the noise of horses, the clang of arms, and the 
clamours upon every side of us ? The Republic is now 
a fact, which we have not to create, but simply to 


declare. If we 'shrink from the task, men are not 
wanting by whom it will be accomplished. Let the 
enemies of the Republic put upon our conduct such con- 
struction as may gratify their malignity, what matters 
it to us ? Any attempt to disarm their censure cannot 
fail to he abortive. From our conscience alone we must 
draw our inspirations. To subdue the tempest is impos- 
sible ; to fly from it would be dishonourable ; but we 
may and must direct it." 

At length, M. de Lamartine drew up the sketch of a 
proclamation, which contained these words, evidently 
intended by him as a compromise : — " Although the 
Provisional Government act only in the name of the 
people, and prefer a Republican form of government, 
neither the people of Paris nor the Provisional Govern- 
ment pretend to substitute their opinion for that of the 
whole nation, which must be called upon to decide 
about the definitive form of government to be pro- 
claimed by the Sovereignty of the People." * 

A declaration of this kind was strangely equivocal ; 
it left the question unsettled ; it actually implied that, 
if by any chance the majority of the provincial electors 
were for a monarchy, the people of Paris would have 
shed their blood for a Republic's sake to no purpose ; it 
meant that universal suffrage had a right to suppress 
the only form of government consistent with universal 
suffrage; the words "prefer a Republican form of govern- 
ment " were ominously indecisive, and, upon the whole, 
the declaration was one not unlikely to turn the sus- 
picions of the people into alarm. 

* See Appendix, No. 1. 


MM. Ledru Rollin and Flocon declined to affix their 
signatures to the document, and so, at first, I did. But 
seeing that our opponents appeared determined to go no 
further, and strongly impressed with the idea of the 
dark confusion into which everything was about to be 
plunged, I considered how I could remedy the evil, at 
least partially. I blotted out the words " though they 
prefer" &c, for which I substituted this much more 
emphatic and decisive affirmation, " though they stand 
by" and the document, thus modified, was sent to the 

May I beg of Lord Normanby to turn to the Appen- 
dix, and glance at the facsimile of this document, 
which was the first issued by the Provisional Govern- 
ment, and to which my signature is affixed without the 
adjunct of secretary ! And may I entertain any hope 
that his lordship will henceforth remain convinced that 
I, for one, did not creep up little by little, and mix my- 
self with the others, and that I did not come, little by 
little, to have a consultative voice with such as had been 
less regularly and directly elected by the people than 
M. Ledru Rollin, Flocon, Albert, and myself? 

Meanwhile, 'the patience of the people, in the Place 
de Greve, as night advanced, was nearly exhausted. 
They could not understand how so much time was 
required to solve so simple a question. A popular 
orator proposed to go and watch over the deliberations 
of the Provisional Government, a proposition to which 
every one agreed. Presently, a group of armed men 
forced themselves into the Council-chamber, in spite of 

* For this facsimile, see Appendix No. 1. 


the efforts of those that kept sentry at the door. 
The meeting held in the Salle Saint Jean, had not yet 
broken up. M. de Lamartine repaired thither, and suc- 
ceeded in calming the effervescence by his soothing 

On my side, I went out, and ordering some pupils of 
the Polytechnic School, whose uniform I was sure 
would make a favourable impression on the people, to 
follow me, I descended towards the Place de Greve. A 
table had been placed at the foot of the staircase. I 
stood on it, and cried out : — " The Provisional Govern- 
ment will the Republic." The grim faces I had before 
me, made still more terrible by the glare of numberless 
torches, expressed on a sudden a feeling of inde- 
scribable satisfaction, and this feeling burst out into a 
triumphant roar. 

As this was going on, some workmen having found in 
a corner of the Hotel de Ville a large piece of linen, took 
a bit of charcoal and traced on it in colossal letters : 
La Republique une et indivisible est proclamee en France. 
Shortly after, they climbed up to the sill of one of the 
windows of the Hotel de Ville ; and, standing there, 
unfolded the enormous scroll lit up by the blaze of 
the torches they held. Redoubled shouts were thun- 
dered out from below, soon followed by a cry of alarm, 
as one of the bearers of the scroll lost his footing, fell 
into the square, and was carried away bathed in his 

Under the influence of so many exciting emotions, 
the aspect of the people had become such, that when 
the proclamation drawn up by M. de Lamartine was 




, . 

■ S 









sent back from the Moniteur to the Provisional Govern- 
ment, a feeling, general now, prevailed that any equi- 
vocal phrase would be dangerous. I availed myself 
of the opportunity, to return to the charge; but 
M. Cremieux cut short any further discussion by 
taking up the pen, and,, in the place of the objec- 
tionable phrase, inserting this one : Le gouvernement 
veut la Republique, sanf ratification par le peuple, 
qui sera immediatement consulte. The proclamation, 
amended in this way, was copied hurriedly on some 
hundred sheets of paper, which were showered down 
from the windows of the Hotel de Ville. 

It has been said that M. Bixio, in consequence of a 
secret understanding with M. Marrast, went to the 
Moniteur, for the express purpose of preventing the 
proclamation being printed, in which he could not 
succeed. But personally I know nothing about the 

The next step was to organise the Government. 
This was done in a manner which nobody is ignorant 
of, M. Ledru Rollin having been named home minister, 
M. de Lamartine minister for foreign affairs, M. Marie 
minister of public works, and so on. 

In a passage of his diary, dated February 27th, Lord 
Normanby says : — 

u The ascendancy of M. de Lamartine has been con- 
firmed, and whilst his efforts have been all exerted in 
the most laudable direction, the effect of his eloquence, 
and the success of his energy, have been shown in his 
nomination to the Presidency of the Provisional 
Government, the age and infirmity of M. Dupont (de 


1'Eure) having induced him to resign that which from 
the first was only nominal on his part." * 

Decidedly, his lordship has been misinformed on 
every point. Never was M. de Lamartine named to the 
Presidency of the Provisional Government. From the 
first day to the last, the Council had no other President 
than the venerable Dupont (de FEure), who received 
the title of the office, and actually discharged the duties 
attached to it, with a zeal and exactness which would 
have been praiseworthy in a man of any age, and were 
really admirable in a man of eighty. A reference to 
the Moniteur shows that our names were appended to 
the various decrees in no particular order, save that of 
Dupont (de FEure), which almost always and indeed 
always, except for some special purpose of the day, 
figured at the head of the list. 

The exertions of the Provisional Government in that 
eventful night may be said to have been prodigious. 
We had to meet innumerable demands, we had to look 
to all sorts of exigencies which admitted of no delay ; 
in fact, chaos was. to be reduced to order^ Among the 
decrees dated F elfr iTary^ £4} one -is more especially 
worth being mentioned, as its verjr laconism gives a 
curious specimen of the omnipotence with which we 
found ourselves invested. To abolish the Chamber of 
Peers, these words were traced in haste : // est interdit 
d la Chambre des Pairs de se reunir, and that was all. 

But, after so much toil, nature began to claim her 
due, for I think none of us had breakfasted yet. 
Unfortunately, nothing was to be got. By dint of 

* " A Year of Revolution," vol. 1., p. 127. 


searching, the starving dictators of France were so 
befriended by fortune as to procure some black bread 
which the soldiers had left, a bottle of wine, a bit of 
cheese, and a pail of water just brought in by a good- 
natured workman. There being no vessel, the next 
difficulty for them was how to get at their drink. By 
another lucky chance, a cracked sugar-basin was dis- 
covered, which passed round, like the cup filled with 
more generous contents, in an ancient banquet. The 
operation was merrily conducted, and M. de Lamartine, 
smiling, said : Void qui est de bon augure pour un 
gouvemement a bon mar die. 

I must not omit a particular which illustrates a 
striking feature in the character of the Parisian work- 
men. As I felt exceedingly fatigued and wanted to 
put off my national guard uniform, I tried to make my 
way h6me, accompanied by my brother and a friend of 
ours, through the dark narrow streets which went 
winding on from the Hotel de Ville to the Maison 
Tortony, where I then lived. The barricades stood 
still erected, and were guarded by the people with 
anxious watchfulness, on account of a rumour that an 
attack was to be dreaded from the troops stationed at 
Vincennes. The pass- word, havresac, liberie, reforme, 
was rigorously exacted. At one of the barricades I 
was stopped, being neither known to the commander, j 
nor aware of the pass-word, and put under arrest with 
my brother and my friend, till our case could be in- 
quired into. In that predicament, it occurred to me to 
say that some of the workmen employed in guarding 
the barricade could not fail to recognise me, and I 


requested they should be summoned to my presence. 
Accordingly they came in, and, seeing me, shouted, 
" Vive Louis Blanc ! i} Of course, I was released, and 
given an escort home. I shall never forget with what 
feeling of extraordinary respect those terrible com- 
batants received — the Republic being now proclaimed — 
the announcement that a member of the Provisional 
Government was passing, and with what mixture of 
military discipline and civic pride they presented arms. 
My reason for stating this, is to show that the Parisian 
workmen, so jealously attached to the principle of 
equality, and prompt as they are to overthrow any 
government inconsistent with it, are nevertheless just 
as ready as other people to do homage to a power of 
their own choice. 

It was not long before I returned to the Hotel de 
Ville. The people bivouacked in the streets as in a 
camp. Great fires were here and there burning, which 
cast their lurid light on groups of faces wonderfully 
expressive, while now and then was heard, in the still- 
ness of the night, the sinister cry of the distant sentinel, 

he challenged, Sentinelles, prenez -garde a vous ! 

d 2 




Was the Government of Louis Bonaparte, after 
the 2nd of December, spontaneously acknowledged ? 
No. Its sole supporters were the very agents of the 
conspiracy from which it had sprung. With hardly 
two or three exceptions, all men whether of intellectual 
or social eminence, the most renowned generals of 
France, its most illustrious poets, its greatest writers, 
its first-rate politicians, turned away from the new 
power. The Republican party was decimated but no 
way subdued. The Orleanists and the Legitimists were 
terrified/but did not cease to stand in silent revolt. 

From the first day, great care had been taken to give 
out (no one being permitted even to whisper a con- 
tradictory word) that Paris streaming with blood — 
the prisons crowded with prisoners — so many persons 
of high standing persecuted or banished — France kept 
in awe by half-a-million of bayonets — the capital of the 
civilised world swarming with police spies — the press 
muzzled — an unexampled series of delations, proscrip- 
tions, confiscations and deportations, were facts un- 
avoidably connected " with the sacred duty of saving 
society from utter destruction." But all this was in 


vain. No men of independent position availed them- 
selves of this specious pretence to cloak an act of 
apostasy; no men were willing to undergo the new 
government, except those whom their poverty compelled, 
and their obscurity allowed, to do so. 

Under the influence of a ruthless system of despotism, 
at a moment when the stillness of terror was every- 
where appalling, and the sabre was suspended over every 
head, the electors were commanded to vote for an 
emperor. So they did ; and, as there was no real 
scrutiny, no means of control, no publicity, no possi- 
bility whatever either of checking the returns or show- 
ing that, under the circumstances, a vote was a lie, the 
Empire boldly termed itself the legitimate offspring of 
universal suffrage, and was acknowledged in this capa- 
city by foreign governments. A new pretext was thus 
offered to any worshippers of the rising sun to screen 
themselves behind the so-called national will. But 
even then, neither the Republicans, nor the Orleanists, 
nor the Legitimists, thought for a moment of rallying 
round Louis Bonaparte. M. de Montalembert, who, 
on hearing that the Pantheon was to be made a church, 
had declared for the usurper, hastened to retrace 
his steps. It soon became known that M. de Pastoret 
had abandoned his party because he was about to be 
repudiated by it, on account of some particular circum- 
stances of a serious nature. M. de la Rochejaquelein 
felt inwardly so ashamed of having suffered himself to 
be made a senator, that, without being the object of 
any public attack, he considered it necessary to publish 
a pamphlet for his justification. As to M. de Cormenin, 


that he had always been regarded by the Legitimists 
as a Republican, and by the Republicans as a Legiti- 
mist, is a fact which no person acquainted with the 
affairs of France can possibly deny. At all events, this 
solitary exception serves only to bring into stronger 
relief the indomitable firmness of the Republican leaders, 
none of whom hesitated to lead, in exile, a life full of 
suffering, rather than submit to violence and injustice. 

Now, let us contrast this faithful picture of what 
occurred after the 2nd of December 1851, with those 
effusions of heart and that genuine flow of sympathy 
which impart to the advent of the Republic of February 
1848, an indelible character of grandeur. 

There was in Paris not a soldier left; nay, not a 
serjeant de ville. The Provisional Government were 
destitute of all means of enforcing obedience ; they 
had no artillerj^, no bayonets at their disposal ; they 
had no guards, not even any organised body of adhe- 
rents ; the armed crowds which, at intervals, filled the 
streets and the public squares, did by no means con- 
stitute a permanent, still less a disposable, force to be 
made use of against any individual act whether of 
resistance or protest. Besides, the unlimited liberty of 
the press was, from the first moment, sanctioned, and 
every one was allowed to speak out his mind.* 

Such being the case, and in the absence of all com- 
pulsory power, declarations of adherence arrived from 
every quarter. Deputations sent by the constituted 
bodies, by every corporation of operatives, by every class 

* To what extent this was carried out will be seen in a subsequent 


of tradesmen, by public functionaries of every degree, 
by the magistracy, and by the clergy, flocked with- 
out interruption to the Hotel deVille. Numberless were 
the congratulatory addresses we received. A stream of 
bannered processions was constantly to be seen in the 
Place de Greve. Gifts of money were brought in, 
every minute. Never were the taxes paid so eagerly as 
during the first days of the Revolution of February. 
Ladies of rank, the Comtesse de Lamoignon, the Com- 
tesse de Chastenay, the Comtesse de Biencourt, the 
Marquise de Lagrange, the Duchesse de Maille, and so 
forth, made a point to inscribe their names on the lists 
of subscription opened in favour of the wounded 

As early as the 24th of February, in the evening, 
Monseigneur Affre, Archbishop of Paris, manifested his 
allegiance to the Republic, in the name of the clergy, 
by directing the curates of his diocese to chant, at the 
church service, Domine salvum fac populum, instead of 
Domine salvum fac regem. His mandamus began with 
these words: 

"On witnessing the great event that has just taken 
place, our first impulse was to weep over such as 
were so unexpectedly mown down. We weep over them 
all, because they are our brethren, and also because 
we have been taught once more how disinterested, 
how generous, how mindful of the right of property, 
are the people of Paris." * 

* Wherefrom it may be inferred that the Archbishop of Paris did not 
exactly agree with Lord Nornianby, who in his book calls these same men 


But a few days after, Father Lacordaire, alluding 
to the workmen who, in the very excitement of the 
struggle, had respectfully carried to the church of 
Saint Rock the crucifix which belonged to the chapel 
of the Tuileries, exclaimed from the pulpit of Notre 
Dame : 

" Need I demonstrate the existence of God ? Should 
I attempt to do so, the gates of this cathedral would 
fly open, to give you the sight of a people adoring 
Christ, and, while in a state of sublime anger, carrying 
God to His altar ! " 

The following was the declaration of the Ultramon- 
tane paper, the Univers : 

" Through the last event, God speaks. The Revolu- 
tion of 1848 is a notification of Divine Providence. 
No conspiracy could have turned society upside down, 
in such a manner, and in so short a time. Who 
thinks to-day of defending monarchy? France fancied 
she was still royalist, whilst she was already repub- 
lican. Monarchy, at present, has not a partisan left. 
There will be no more sincere Republicans than the 
French Catholics." 

The members of the Cornell d'Etat appointed M. de 
Cormenin to give utterance to their feelings of admira- 
tion for what he termed " cette grande et sublime revo- 

M. Gerusez, in the name of the University of Paris, 
bowed to a Revolution which he said had been accom- 
plished for the sake of the human race, and was to be 
baptised " Imperissable Republique ! " 

All the judicial bodies came, one after the other, to 


the Hotel de Vilie, there to strengthen their oaths by 
voluntary and enthusiastic affirmations. 

It was by myself that the act of adhesion of the 
Cour des Comptes was received, on the 29th of February ; 
nor have I forgotten with what bursts of almost juve- 
nile sympathy the old magistrates hailed this sentence 
of my brief reply : 

" The motto of the Republic will no longer be Liberie, 
Ordre public ; these two things are inseparable. What 
we must henceforth enjoy is V Ordre dans la Liberie"* 

In their turn, the members of the Cour de Cassation, 
on the 3rd of March, repaired to the Hotel de Ville, 
where, by the mouth of their first president, M. Portalis, 
they made a solemn declaration that "the Provisional 
Government was the centre around which it was the 
duty of all to rally." The speech of M. Portalis ended 
with these words : 

"We have confidence in yonr wisdom, in your 
patriotism, and in your firmness. What you are 
capable of doing is shown by what you have already 
done. The nation will sustain you." 

The heads of the army vied with each other in offering 
their services to the Republic, namely, Marshal Soult, 
Marshal Sebastiani, Marshal Gerard, General Oudinot, 
General Lahitte, General Baraguay d'Hilliers, &c. 

It wonld take a large volume to register all the letters 
in which important military personages swore to be true 
to the Republic. I will content myself with quoting 
the following ones, the selection of which needs no 
commentary : — ■ 

* See the Moniteur, 1st of March, 1848. 



" Monsieur le Ministre, — 

"Taking into consideration the events which 
have just been accomplished, and the necessity of 
securing, by union, both order at home and inde- 
pendence abroad, I think it a duty incumbent on me 
to put my sword at the disposal of the government 
newly instituted. I have always considered as the 
most sacred of duties that of defending one's country. 

"Due d'Isly." 

This letter has a peculiar significance ; it was written 
by that very Marshal Bugeaud who, in the days of 
Louis Philippe, had so deeply imbrued his hands in the 
blood of the Republicans ! 

Shortly after came a letter from General Changarnier. 
It ran as follows : — 


" Monsieur le Ministre, — 

"I request the Republican Government to make 
use of my devotedness to France. I solicit the com- 
mand of the troops on the frontier most threatened 
with war. My experience in managing soldiers, the | 
confidence which the army reposes in me, an impas- 
sioned love of glory, la volonte et V habitude de vaincre* 
will, I trust, enable me successfully to perform my 
duties. What I venture to say regarding myself is not 

* I leave this phrase in the original, for I confess myself unable to 
render it into English. 


to be considered as the expression of a childish vanity, 
but as the outpouring of my ardent desire to devote all 
my faculties to the service of my country. 

" Changarnier." 

In reference to the attitude assumed by General 
Changarnier, I remember a fact which I think is worth 
mentioning. He had in the Council a very warm sup- 
porter, who was M. Marrast, and a decided adversary, 
who was myself. Not that I felt disposed to underrate 
his military deeds ; no one having ever sounded his 
praises, in this particular respect, as much as I had 
done in the " History of Ten Years." But it had been 
my impression, that he always showed himself inimical 
to the Republic ; and I was confirmed in this belief on 
hearing that, when apprised of the proclamation of the 
Republican Government, he broke out into a military 
ejaculation expressive of rough repugnance. I had it 
from good authority, as a friend of mine was present 
when the thing occurred. Accordingly, the moment 
M. Marrast mentioned, in the Council, the name of 
General Changarnier, I objected to his being invested 
with a power he might make use of to turn the scale in 
favour of the opposite side, should an opportunity 
offer. I have every reason to think that M. Marrast 
did not feel himself bound to keep what had been 
observed secret; for General Changarnier, without 
losing time, called upon me at the Luxembourg, and, 
protesting he had been painted in wrong colours, he 
left nothing unsaid that might convince me of his 
readiness faithfully to serve the Republic. 


At the same period, and at the same place, M. de 
la Rochejaquelein paid me a visit, which a singular 
circumstance stamped on my memory. The very 
instant this gentleman's name was brought in, a 
numerous deputation of workmen stood at the door. 
I desired M. de la Rochejaquelein to be ushered in, for 
no other purpose than to express to him by word of 
mouth how sorry I was to be obliged to put off the 
interview he asked for. He was in a real state of 
rapture, which I believe was perfectly sincere. " Never 
mind; never mind;" he exclaimed, in a somewhat 
hurried manner, " I have nothing particular to tell you. 
I only wished to let you know what feelings such mar- 
vels as these awaken in my heart. Ah! queerest beau! 
que c'est beau ! " Then he clasped me in his arms, and 
went out. 

I will not dwell upon the public declarations of 
M. Dupin and M. Baroche. The mode of proceeding 
of these gentlemen, in any such emergency, is a matter 
of course. But it may not be uninteresting to English 
readers to know what was, at the time, the language 
held by such men as M. de Montalembert and M. de 
Falloux, two of the heads of the Legitimist party. 

M. de Montalembert, addressing the constituency of 
the Departement du Doubs, thus lamented that he had 
not earlier been initiated into the science of Socialism : 

" In the political sphere, I have had only one standard, 
liberty in all and for all. I have demanded the liberty 
of teaching, and the liberty of association, as the basis 
and the guarantee of liberty in all its forms. I have, 
perhaps, to reproach myself with having shared — I will 


not say the indifference — but the ignorance of most 
politicians respecting several of the social and econo- 
mical qji^stions-which fill, to-day, so vast and so fitting 
a place in the thoughts and feelings of the country. 
Were the way to a political career thrown open to me 
by the suffrage of my fellow-citizens, I should in good 
faith, and without the least arriere pensee, assist in 
laying the foundations of the Republic." 

Lord Normanby's ruffians were described, as follows by 
M. dc Falloux, in a letter expressing his intimate feelings : 

"I cannot end this scribbling without consigning 
here — and this will astonish no one except those that 
are distant from the theatre of the events — my admi- 
ration (I underline the word) for the people of Paris. 
Their courage had something of heroism in it ; their 
instincts were of a generosity and delicacy which sur- 
pass by far anything like it exhibited by the political 
bodies which governed France for sixty years. It may 
'be said that the combatants, arms in hand, in the 
double intoxication of danger and triumph, have set an 
example on which all cool-headed men have hereafter 
nothing better to do than to model their conduct. 
They have imparted to their victory a sacred character : 
let us unite ourselves with them, in order that this 
character may remain unimpaired." 

Louis Bonaparte_was in Paris on the 28th. He pro- 
ceeded to pay his respects to the Provisional Govern- 
ment, in this manner : 

" Gentlemen, 

"The people of Paris haying destroyed by its 


heroism the last vestige of foreign invasion, I hastened 
from the land of exile to enlist myself under the 
banners of the Republic, which has just been pro- 
claimed. With no other ambition than that of serving 
my country, I beg to make the members of the Pro- 
visional Government aware of my arrival, and I request 
them to be assured, both of my devotion to the cause 
they represent, and of my personal sympathy for them. 
"Napoleon Louis Bonaparte." 

At that time, the sentence of banishment against the 
Emperor's family had not yet been annulled. But the 
policy of the Provisional Government was too generous 
to take advantage, against any one, of so unjust a law. 
Whether, as has been said, some of the members of 
the government caused it to be intimated to Louis 
Bonaparte, that they feared his presence might possibly 
lead to tumults, is a circumstance I am ignorant of ; 
but I have no recollection that any such step was the 
subject of a decision taken in the Council, or even of 
discussion. Nor was there any occasion for it; as the 
presence of Louis Bonaparte in Paris, at that moment, 
was scarcely noticed. He soon perceived that it was 
better for him to withdraw, and he returned to London. 
But his letter will remain a lasting testimony to that 
irresistible moral power which compelled all parties, 
each in its turn, to bow down before the Republic. 

Will it be contended that the professions of service 
and fidelity made by so many individuals, from so 
many quarters, were all equally insincere? Supposing 
this to be true, what stronger proof could be adduced 


of the prodigious moral force of the new government ? 
If the idea of its durability had not been deeply im- 
pressed on every mind, would all men of note have 
consented to crawl into its favour ? Would they have 
thought it worth while to plunge into perjury and 
hypocrisy, for the sake of ingratiating themselves with 
a still-born power? I will not deny that there are in 
France men to whom might is right, and who, like 
M. Dupin, like M. Baroche, never swore allegiance but 
to their places and emoluments; but the persons of 
this stamp would be the very last whom a faltering 
government might expect to bring over. Consequently, 
whatever construction the maligners of the Republic 
may choose to put upon the outbursts of sympathy 
which the Revolution of February called forth every- 
where, these outbursts would be utterly unaccountable, 
had not the Republic been viewed generally in the 
light of an institution full of vitality. 

Now, is the supposition I have just examined, to be 
admitted to any considerable extent? In justice to 
my country, I do not hesitate to answer : No. That 
even then, success had its worshippers, is certain ; but 
I feel bound in duty to deny that such a voluntary flow 
of good-will as made its way to the Hotel de Ville, was 
but a swelling tide of falsehood. The truth is, that the 
general impulse was genuine, much more so than some, 
to-day, would be able to perceive, or willing to 
confess. The magnanimity of the people, in February, 
1848, morally subdued many of the most deter- 
mined adversaries of its cause. On seeing how dis- 
interested and generous those men were, who had so 


often been depicted as barbarians ready to overwhelm 
the civilised world, many, like M. de Falloux and 
the Archbishop of Paris, felt their hearts greatly 
affected, and could not help expressing their admi- 
ration. More than one politician became a Repub- 
lican all on a sudden, whose sole reason for not 
having been so before, was, that he considered the 
advent of the Republic to be impossible. More than 
one haughty personage perceived, for the first time, that 
nobleness and poverty are not irreconcileable. There 
was a happy revival of the sense of public honour, 
and the tone of public life was prodigiously raised. 
* The elevation of mind which, in those unparalleled 
days, may be said to have pervaded all classes, shone 
forth on the 27th of February, when the Republic 
was in a solemn manner inaugurated at the Place de 
la Bastille, amid the unbought and tremendous 
plaudits of all Paris, and still more strikingly on the 
4th of March, at the celebration of the funeral of 
such as had been killed during the struggle. The 
ceremony was performed in the Church of La Made- 
leine, full of, and surrounded by, a vast concourse 
of people, whose touching attitude will never be for- 
gotten by those who were present. The church was 
hung in mourning, and lighted by fifteen funeral 
torches. An immense catafalque had been erected 
between the nave and the choir, on each side of which 
these words were inscribed : Morts pour la patrie ! 
There stood, wearing crape on the arm, and with no 
other characteristic badge than a tri-coloured scarf, the 
members of the Provisional Government. There were 


assembled the members of the municipality of Paris, 
the mayors of the twelve districts, the relatives of the 
victims, a great number of general officers both of the 
Army and Navy, the pupils of the Polytechnic School, 
the students belonging to the law-schools, and to the 
Medical College ; deputations from all the educational, 
literary, or scientific institutes ; from all the corpora- 
tions of workmen; from the Cour de Cassation, the 
Cour d'Appel, the Cour des Comptes, the Conseil 
d'Etat, and the tribunals. In fact, all that constitutes 
French society was there.* 

At half-past one, the funeral service being over, the 
cortege left the church, and took the way to the Place 
de la Bastille, between a double row of National Guards, 
which extended from the Place de la Madeleine to the 
Colonne de Juillet. No vain display was there to be 
seen, no splendid equipage, no crowd of lackeys, no 
troop of horse caracoling, sword in hand, round a gilt 
carriage of state. The members of the Provisional 
Government walked among their fellow-citizens, with 
no other guard around them than public respect and 
love. At half-past four, the coffins were lowered into 
the vaults beneath the Column of July, from the top 
of which a long crape, powdered with silver tears, was 
flowing down. Appropriate speeches were delivered by 
MM. Cremieux and Gamier Pages, whereupon the 
.people retired in solemn silence. 

The following passage of the Moniteur gives a faithful 
picture of the moral aspect of this most impressive 
ceremony : 

* See the Moniteur of the 5th of March. 


" Yesterday, the prevalent feeling was the intoxica- 
tion of triumph ; to-day, it is the calmness of force. A 
multitude which can only be counted by hundreds of 
thousands attended the funeral. All Paris was in the 
streets, or at the windows. Numberless labourers had 
come to range themselves, no longer under the banner 
of superstition, as in the middle ages, but under the 
intelligent banner of Republican fraternity, waiting 
for the Provisional Government, which, as it walked 
behind the natural families of the victims, seemed to 
represent their adoptive family, the whole of France. 
Any one unacquainted with the habits of the marvel- 
lously sagacious population of Paris, may wonder how 
three or four hundred thousand men could be found to 
obey, without direction, the same feeling, and to pre- 
serve the same aspect. But they did so, and it is most 
remarkable that, in so vast a multitude, there was not 
a man prepared to hear those clamours with which all 
victorious powers are wont to be hailed. The Parisians, 
with that exquisite perception of propriety which is in 
them a natural instinct, felt that, in the presence of so 
many coffins, the calmness of an indomitable conviction 
was to take the place of the triumphal excitement of 
victory. At every window, on every balcony, along the 
Boulevards, women were waving their handkerchiefs 
and their hands; every one respectfully took off his hat 
as the members of the Provisional Government passed 
but the people, at this particular juncture, had a grav 
countenance, and the general feeling was one of repressed! 
emotion. The fasces were not, this time, surmountec I 
by the consular axe; the terrible symbol had disap 


peared, in consequence of the sublime decree for the 
abolition of capital punishment, and the lance, which 
should be reserved for the foe only, had been substituted 
for the axe of civil war ; so that the remembrance even 
of the heroic ages was effaced by that revolution which 
surpasses all others, by superadding modern generosity 
to antique grandeur. To the French Republic solely it 
belonged to give rise to that regulated, formidable, 
and grave enthusiasm which was never known to the 
courtiers of ancient monarchies. Silence — the lesson 
of kings — was to-day, for the first time, the eloquent 
form of the sympathy of a whole people." * 

Can one word more be wanting to prove that it is 
sheer madness to term the Republic of 1848 "the 
Republic of surprise ! " A government " of surprise " 
was the Empire, for it was the offspring of a conspiracy 
long hatched in the dark and of a night ambush which 
took Paris unawares ; nor did Louis Bonaparte find it 
very difficult to keep the field, once conquered through 
an unexampled piece of treachery, since he proved 
capable of having recourse to appropriate means, that 
is, an unbounded military tyranny, the gagging of the 
press, donatives showered upon the men of the Second 
of December out of the public purse, and, above all, 
a permanent system of terror, which naturally resulted 
in sham elections and a mockery of universal suffrage. 
But the members of the Provisional Government did 
not possess, nor were they the men to use, any such 
means. Had their dictatorship, or a part of it, been 
"filched" as Lord Normanby was not ashamed to say, 

B 2 

See the Mqnit$w 9£jthe 5th of March, 1848 


France would deserve to occupy the lowest rank in the 
scale of nations, for not having chastised an attempt 
both so monstrous and so silly, while the most eminent 
personages of France ought to be branded with ever- 
lasting infamy, for having bent the knee before usurpers 
whom they could have blown away with a puff. 

On the other hand, had the French people been so 
violently and universally averse to the Republic, as 
asserted by politicians of Lord Normanby's school, 
those would have been above the level of humanity, 
who, without treasures, without soldiers, without police, 
without anything like an organised force, were able to 
maintain their power as long as they thought fit, estab 
lishing a new form of government, proclaiming new 
principles, installing new functionaries, pacifying the 
people, keeping the army in awe, adjusting the forms 
of law to their will, issuing decrees never disobeyed, 
and eliciting, after their voluntary abdication, from a 
National Assembly called upon to j udge their conduct, 
an acknowledgment thus worded : " I/Assemblee 


That the Republic of 1848 was "the "Republic oj 
surprise/' is therefore an assumption, not only at vari- 
ance with the established facts and with the well-know: 
pride of the French people, but also utterly inconsisten 
with all the laws of probability. 

This brings me to controvert an opinion not unlikely,] 
if persisted in, to weaken, in future, those bonds o: 
amity which it is so desirable should remain unrelaxei 
between England and France. 


That Republican institutions are not suited to the 
French nation, has almost become a proverbial expres- 
sion in this country ; and, although I believe it to be a 
mistake, I must candidly confess that the view the 
English take of the subject is grounded on circum- 
stances which, if not carefully analysed, may seem to 
justify such a conclusion. 

In the first place, most people in England have been 
taught that the French Republic of 1792 and 1793 was 
but a wild rush towards despotism through anarchy. 

In the second place, it may be contended, with much 
show of reason, that the Republican Government from 
1848 to 1852 turned out to be a failure. 

Thirdly, foreigners who have a superficial insight 
into the manners of the French people, and the lurking 
causes of the historical vicissitudes of France, can 
hardly be expected to ascribe strong Republican pro- 
pensities to a nation which they see, at this very hour, 
lying prostrate at the feet of a despot. 

But these facts require to be examined in their 
true light. 

First, the French Revolution of 1792 and 1793 
having been a gigantic struggle between the old world 
and a thoroughly new one, the very magnitude of the 
contest, while it exhausted the nation into fainting in 
the arms of a military despot, made it impossible, as 
long as it lasted, to establish any definitive form of 
government whatever. Let the reader be remembered 
that the Constitution of 1793 was never carried out, its 
framers having decreed that it should not be put in 
practice till after the close of the war ; which shows that 


the violent regime forced upon the Republicans of that 
period was not regarded by themselves as a regular 
Republican form of government. 

Respecting the Republic proclaimed in February 
1848, it crumbled away, because those whom it en- 
trusted with the power, happened to be its most deadly 
enemies : a circumstance which was by no means the 
result of any fundamental defect in the new institutions, 
as applied to the French people, but sprung from a 
merely accidental combination of treacherous ma- 
noeuvres and repeated blunders which I will hereafter 
explain. Who does not know that the majority of the 
late Legislative Assembly rose in opposition against their 
own constituencies, and made it their constant study to 
undermine the Republic, railing on every occasion at 
Republican principles, hunting down every sincere 
Republican, consigning to beggary the Republican pri- 
mary teachers, goading the workmen into self- destruc- 
tive fits of wrath, disarming the people, trampling on 
that very principle of universal suffrage of which they 
were born, and, out of hatred to the Republic, foolishly 
investing Louis Bonaparte with the monstrous power 
that enabled him, on the second of December, to crush 
both the Republic and themselves ? 

Now, that, in consequence of an unexpected stroke 
of military violence, a nation should be momentarily 
manacled, and that France herself should be kept in 
awe by four hundred thousand bayonets incessantly 
levelled at her, is conceivable enough. But it is obvious 
that, as regards her natural tendencies, nothing is to be 
inferred, either from her immobility, since Paris dis 

i • 


armed lies surrounded with artillery and soldiers, or 
from her silence, since a lynx-eyed police is everywhere 
and freedom nowhere. 

If the Empire, as its supporters are not ashamed to 
boast, rests on eight millions of real suffrages, and the 
sympathy of the nation, wiry does not Louis Bonaparte 
set France at liberty to give full scope to her enthu- 
siasm? Why, better to prove the legitimacy of his 
power, does he not hasten to unmuzzle the press, to 
allow free meetings, to respect electoral independence, 
to unfetter public opinion, to abolish his arbitrary police, 
and to send his soldiers to the frontiers, there to defend 
their country, if needful ? Granted that there exist 
some elements of internal disturbance, is not the will 
of a great nation, operating through law, sufficient 
irresistibly to suppress them ! Let Louis Bonaparte 
try, only for a month ! But no. He is perfectly aware 
that the very moment the French felt themselves free 
from the overwhelming weight of four hundred thousand 
bayonets, his reign would be at an end. So thoroughly 
is he alive to the precarious and unsafe character of his 
position, that, after having made it a danger for France 
to speak, nay, to whisper, he grows feverish at the bare 
idea that she is still permitted to breathe. What a con- 
clusion, then, may be fairly drawn, as regards the true 
feelings of France, from a situation so artificial and 
so transitory ! 

The English opinion to which I object, rests, therefore, 
on no really historical grounds ; and still less can this 
opinion be maintained from a philosophical point of 


For my part, I am ready to admit that one of the 
chief merits of political institutions lies in their adaptive- 
ness to the character of the nation for which they are 
intended ; and this is the very reason why I think 
Republican institutions suited to the French people. 

The English are impressed with the idea that their 
friends on the other side of the Channel are exceedingly 
fond of pageantry. I will not deny the fact. But 
when the Parisians swarm in the streets, to catch a 
glimpse of some pompous train of high personages 
riding on horseback or in gilt carriages, (which, by the 
bye, is more or less the case in every country,) their 
desire to have their curiosity gratified blends always 
with a lively proneness to laugh at livery-men of every 
kind, and to ridicule any show which does not cor- 
respond to a lofty feeling, or is at variance with their 
sense of equality. Moreover, no French Republican 
dreams of a Republic cast in the Lacedaemonian mould ; 
no French Republican is blind to the necessity of 
adjusting political institutions to the manners of the 
French, so as to satisfy their relish for grand spectacles, 
and to keep pace with the progress of civilisation in its 
most brilliant aspects. In the essence of a Republic 
there is nothing irreconcil cable with pomp ; nor is it 
obvious why, in a country where the prestige of kingship 
has been destroyed by so many revolutions, the people 
would prefer the gorgeous display of one man's power 
to the imposing manifestation of its own. 

Let us now examine another and more comprehensive 
side of the question. 

A deep thinker, Mr. John Stuart Mill, says, in a 


most admirable paper written by him in reply to Lord 
Brougham, concerning the Revolution of February : 

" The general habit and practice of the English 
mind is compromise. . . . The English never feel 
themselves safe unless they are living under the 
shadow of some conventional fiction. Now, con- 
stitutional royalty is precisely an arrangement of 
this description. The very essence of it is, that the 
so-called sovereign does not govern, ought not to govern, 
is not intended to govern ; but yet must be held up to 
the nation, be addressed by the nation, as if he or she 
did govern. This, which was originally a compromise 
between the friends of popular liberty and those of 
absolute monarchy, has established itself as a sincere 
feeling in the mind of the nation — who would be 
offended, and think their liberties endangered, if a king 
or queen meddle any further in the government than to 
give a formal sanction to all acts of Parliament, and to 
appoint as ministry, or rather as minister, the person 
whom the majority in Parliament pointed out; and yet 
would be unaffectedly shocked, if every considerable act 
of government did not profess and pretend to be the 
act and mandate of the person on the throne." * 

Not so with the French people; and, in thus ex- 
pressing myself, I mean no disparagement to the 
habit of the English mind ; far from it ! The relish 
of the English for compromise arises out of that 
practical and patient genius, to which they are in- 
debted for the calm of their political life. But all 
comparisons unfavourable to either of these two great 

* "Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review," for April, 1849. 


nations being put aside, I may be allowed to say that 
the general habit and practice of the French mind is 
logical directness. They would submit to no system 
purporting to be something else than the very thing 
intended to be acted upon. The tone of thought and 
feeling congenial to them leads them irresistibly to 
think, that if the part of royalty be restricted to the 
mechanical act of registering the laws, a cipher would 
do as well, and be less expensive. Hence, the utter 
impossibility to implant on the other side of the channel 
this subtle distinction : Le roi regne et ne gouverne pas. 
Should a king be willing to comply with a maxim of 
the sort, he would sink rapidly in public estimation. 
.But could possibly any such king be found in France ? 
I doubt it very much. Need I remind the reader with 
what crafty perseverance Louis Philippe strove to break 
the fetters of the constitutional theory, although he 
seemed to be the very man to feel satisfied with a 
position which requires moderate talents, little pride, 
a very confined ambition, no intellectual longings, and 
a sufficient amount of good sense ? 

It is a common English saying that the French are 
a fickle people. This is a misconception, too ; but as 
it derives sanction from appearances of a really delusive 
nature, to detect it requires close examination. The 
fact is, that directness is mistaken for fickleness. The 
French have a marked tendency to act upon this prin- 
ciple, which, true as it is in mathematics, is dangerous 
in politics — that the straightest line is the shortest. 
Accordingly, the premises once admitted, they go 
straight to the logical conclusion, ready to crush any 


obstacle that may lie in the way, if there be no better 
means to avoid it than to go round. The consequence 
is, that, whenever the new idea they contend for, is 
opposed with momentary success by the interests of 
long standing or the inveterate prejudices it has to 
encounter, the struggle ends in a retreat not of purpose 
but of fact, which make all superficial minds believe 
that the previously advancing nation has abandoned its 
tenets, and lost sight of its aim. But not so. It 
clings to both more tenaciously than ever, and regains 
its ground through an undermining process, till at last 
the obstacle is exploded, which, being done, it starts 
with renewed vigour from the point just reached, and 
goes on, always straightly, to the next stage. An 
illustration of this will be found in the history of our 
successive revolutions during the last century; for 
none of them has failed to be the immediate and logical 
consequence of the preceding one, although the interval 
between the two had been filled, almost invariably, by 
an apparent surrender of the antecedent conquests. 
It is obvious that the political institutions best suited 
to such a people are Republican institutions, on account 
of their elasticity, which allows public opinion to wend 
its way quietly, whilst the existence of an unyielding 
barrier would have for its natural effect, sooner or 
later, to swell the stream into a devastating torrent. 

It will, perhaps, be objected that the same peaceful 
result may be attained, under constitutional monarchy, 
combined with liberty of the press and a fair scope for 
public discussion. I have partly disposed of this ob- 
jection, as far as the French are concerned, by stating 


how uncongenial it is to them to submit to anything 
like a fiction or a compromise. I will complete the 
demonstration by adding to the philosophical conside- 
rations suggested by their character, such political argu- 
ments as are to be drawn from the very nature of things. 

When, under the French Monarch, Henry III., the 
Due de Guise was told that the king wished him dead, 
he answered: "No one will dare to do it." But the king 
did dare, for the duke was treacherously murdered. 
Was this a proof of force on the part of the monarch ? 
Just the reverse, the sense of his impotence having 
made him a coward and an assassin. Now, what was 
Queen Anne's conduct, when she came to the resolution 
of getting rid of Marlborough ! She simply wrote to 
him that he was dismissed. The bringing these two 
facts together shows that monarchy, in England, has, 
within its constitutional limits, a degree of power of 
which monarchy, in France, was actually in want, even 
at a time when, in theory, it was supreme. English 
monarchy, as Delolme says, "it a good ship, which 
Parliament can lay high and dry when it ivill." But 
what matters it ? Never was royalty, in England, as 
would be the case in France, a power standing solitary 
at the summit of a society tormented with the love of 
equality. The queen, in this country, borrows her 
strength, as well as her splendour, from the aristocracy 
which surrounds the throne, and is, above all things, 
interested in preserving the established hierarchy, 
because the whole chain would vibrate throughout its 
length, the moment its first link was touched. 

Besides, royalty, in England, is propped up by respect 


for class distinctions, a feeling so deeply rooted in the 
hearts. And, indeed, a foreigner cannot look into the 
manners of the English without being amazed at finding 
them so proud and so humble, so independent and so 
submissive, so fond of the forms of liberty and so 
attached to the distinctions of aristocracy. In this re- 
markable country, the language of the press is aggressive, 
bold and unrestrained ; nevertheless, ranks are, so to 
speak, labelled in the most symmetrical order. Personal 
pride is, among the English, highly developed; never- 
theless, they strictly obey the law of precedency. The 
queen, to pass the gates of the city, must obtain the Lord 
Mayor's permission ; nevertheless, the observance of 
distinctions of ranks finds its way from the drawing- 
room to the servants' hall. 

Thus, two feelings govern the English nation : an 
indomitable love of liberty, and a respect for class dis- 
tinctions ; a phenomenon the causes of which may be 
traced in history; for, of the two races, Saxon and 
Norman, brought face to face by conquest, neither 
having been able to absorb the other, the result was a 
compromise between two principles equally balanced. 
The vanquished nation was obliged, in self defence, to 
establish a vigorous system of guarantees, while the con- 
querors were led closely to watch, for their preservation, 
over the inviolability of a system of privileges. 

It is otherwise in France ; so much so, that no one of 
all the conditions Montesquieu declares requisite for the 
maintenance of Monarchy, could possibly be found there. 
Montesquieu says, for instance, that this is a political 
axiom: No monarch, no nobility; no nobility, no monarch. 


Well, has there been any nobility in France, since 1789 ; 
or, could anything be more foolish than an attempt to 
revive it? According to Montesquieu, a monarchical 
government is simply impossible, if not combined with 
the law of primogeniture. Now, is this law existing in 
France, or likely to be re-established ? 

I conclude : 

In England, royalty blends its roots with those of the 
nation, with which it has developed itself in a normal 
way, under the influence of nearly identical necessities. 

In France, on the contrary, any old tradition on 
which royalty might rest has been destroyed. 

In England, a strong aristocracy lends both its power 
and its lustre to the throne. 

In France, nobility no longer exists, — is no longer 

In England, the hereditary descent of the crown is in 
perfect harmony with the principle of entails. 

In France, the principle which goes on dividing 
property so far as to pulverise the soil, leaves political 
hereditary power without social foundations. 

In England, royalty is an institution perfectly 
consistent with an almost universal leaning to class- j 

In France, the sense of equality is developed to the I 

It would be, therefore, at variance both with the j> 
acknowledged facts and the most obvious deductions of j 
logic, to assume that constitutional monarchy is of a I 
nature to be adapted to France, because it works well | 
in England. 


Nor are the seventeen years of the reign of Louis 
Philippe of any weight, in this discussion. Constitu- 
tional monarchy, under Louis Philippe, was tolerated 
as a provisional expedient, but never viewed by the 
nation at large in the light of an accepted principle. 
Not for a moment did the ruler of France himself mis- 
take his position ; he knew he could have no other 
engine of government than the terror of the shop- 
keepers at the idea of a new revolution ; that is of some 
hindrance to the selling of their brittle wares ; and by 
constantly holding out to them the prospect of pillage as 
the unavoidable consequence of any future outbreak, 
he succeeded in securing their support, till even that 
artificial support gave way under him. So that, in 
France, constitutional monarchy, as long as it lasted, 
was nothing better than a scarecrow placed in a field 
to prevent birds from devouring the corn. But when 
the Revolution of February broke out, there were no 
rapacious birds to be found, there was no corn devoured; 
and the throne of Louis Philippe, it was manifest, had 
rested, for seventeen years, on a mere calumny ! 

As to absolute monarchy, how could it be possible in 
France, with anything like the consent of the people? 
Or how could it be compatible with the natural growth 
of the principles proclaimed in 1789? 

It would be a power of an aristocratic character, born 
of the bourgeoisie, which has broken the chain of here- 
ditary distinctions. 

It would be a power exclusively conservative, born of 
the bourgeoisie, which has opened up an unlimited 
career to human ambition. 


It would be a traditional power, born of the bourgeoi- 
sie, by which all ancient traditions have been effaced. 

It would be an omnipotent power, born of the bour- 
geoisie, which suffered the omnipotence of Louis XVI. 
to sink in blood, and which chastised by an eternal 
exile the omnipotence of Charles X. 

It would be, in one word, the strangest, the most 
inexplicable, and the most monstrous of all institutions ; 
as its nature would at every point give the lie to its 
origin, and its origin would at every point give the lie 
to its nature. 

On these terms, the King would be like a protestant 
made a Pope. 

Consequently, when the members of the Provisional 
Government, on the 24th of February, assumed the 
responsibility of a change of government, they did not 
act under the impulse of a juvenile enthusiasm, but 
from a mature and practical consideration of the wants 
and the tendencies of French society : and the best 
proof that they were right is that the Republic had no 
sooner been proclaimed than it was universally and 
spontaneously acknowledged. 




Never was perhaps in History anything equal to the 
magnanimity displayed on the morrow of the Revolu- 
tion of February, both by the people and the govern- 
ment sprung from their spontaneous suffrage. Even 
before the excitement of the struggle had subsided, all 
past offences were forgotten. No cry for vengeance 
was heard; not a Royalist fell a victim to public or 
private resentment ; not a Republican thought of evok- 
ing the manes of his brothers slaughtered in the Rue 
Transnonain, or seemed to remember how unmercifully 
the Republicans had been hunted down. Not only were 
their bitterest enemies left unharmed, but they met> 
with the .most generous protection. 

Well might have Louis Philippe spared himself the 
trouble of overhasty flight and the humiliating annoy- 
ance of a disguise, as neither the people nor their 
chosen rulers took the slightest notice of him. His 
name was not even mentioned in the first deliberations 
of the Provisional Government, and it was only some 
six or seven days after the establishment of the Republic, 
that one of us, I do not recollect who, said : " A propos, 


Messieurs, quest devenu Louis Philippe ? " a question 
which gave rise to no other feeling than one of kind 
solicitude. M. Marrast was therefore appointed to go 
in quest of the fugitive king, in order to escort and, if 
needed, to shield him. M. Marrast was to be attended 
by MM. Ferdinand Lasteyrie and Oscar Lafayette. 
He declined to be the Odilon Barrot of another 
Charles X.; but he despatched agents to Havre de 
Grace, with special directions to watch over the fallen 
monarch and to facilitate his embarking. 

The Duchesse de Montpensier had found a refuge at 
M. Lasteyrie's. After a short stay in the house of this 
gentleman, she left Paris, and crossed France, perfectly 

The Due de Nemours remained in Paris two days, 
without molestation of any kind. Being informed that 
he was hidden in a house close to the Luxembourg, we 
made it a point to wink at it. 

Lord Normanby did not think, of course, that such 
facts as these deserved being noticed. His lordship 
was not the man to be moved at the adoption by a set 
of revolutionists of a policy which, for its merciful and 
self-reliant character, has no parallel in the history of 
nations. All he could do was to admit that, among 
the members of the Provisional Government, one at 
least, M. de Lamartine, may have been susceptible of j 
some good feelings. Well, let the noble marquess be 
apprised of a circumstance which I trust will teach 
him the danger of confining within two narrow limits) 
one's acknowledgment of the truth. A false rumour; 
having become current that the Duchesse d'Orleansj 


had been arrested at Mantes, M. Ferdinand Lasteyrie 
got extremely alarmed, and hastening to the Hotel de 
Ville, besought us to order that the princess should be 
released. All the members of the Provisional Govern- 
ment complied with the request, except M. de Lamartine. 
To the entreaties of M. Ferdinand de Lasteyrie, his 
answer was : " Le salut public repose sur ma popularity ; 
je ne veux pas la risquer. ,} Whereupon, one of the 
members came forward, and so warmly opposed any- 
thing like a petty persecution against a woman and a 
mother, that M. de Lamartine was obliged to desist. 
The person to whose chivalrous interference I here 
allude, was M. Albert. 

The abolition of the punishment of death for poli- 
tical offences is a fact which Lord Normanby could not 
decently pass over in silence. The following is his 
statement of the case : 

" . . . M. de Lamartine announced to the people, 
amidst universal cheers, — that which was not accepted 
the day before — the abolition of the punishment of death 
for all political offences. This most virtuous act is the 
greater personal triumph to him, when we consider 
what were the details of the day before. The great 
contest between the two parties was upon the question 
of the change of flag, from tricoloured to red. M. La- 
martine said, with great energy, that the tricoloured 
flag had been waved in victory from one end of Europe 
to the other, whilst the red was only known to the 
Champ de Mars, as having taken its colour from the 
blood of Frenchmen."* 

* "A Year of Revolution," vol. i. pp. 127, 128. 


Nothing could be more unjust and more contrary to 
the truth than to give credit to M. de Lamartine exclu- 
sively for what Lord Normanby condescends to term 
" a most virtuous act ; >3 and, on the other hand, 
nothing could be more calumnious than to contrast, 
by way of insinuation, the conduct of those who in- 
sisted on the punishment of death being abolished, 
with the opinion of those who were for the change of 
flag, from tricoloured to red. Lord Normanby will 
probably be amazed at hearing that the Provisional 
Government was urged to change the flag, and pre- 
vailed upon to abolish the punishment of death, by the 
same person, and that that person was — myself! The 
J fact may seem strange to Lord Normanby, who is 
evidently impressed with the ludicrous idea that, red 
being the colour of blood, those only are likely to wish 
for a red flag who delight in bloodshed. But, I am 
sorry to say, his lordship has yet much to learn. 

The truth is this : 

On the 25th of February, M. de Lamartine started 
the question whether it would not be expedient to abo- 
lish capital punishment for political offences. The prin- 
ciple involved in the measure was unanimously adopted; 
but the practical side of the question, in all its bear- 
ings, was considered by some to be of a nature to open 
a wide field of difficult discussion, and the proposition 
was rejected, to my great disappointment, there being 
no book of mine in which the inviolability of human 
life is not proclaimed. 

It so happened that, the very next day, an article 
appeared in the most important of the royalist news- 


papers, hinting that France might expect to see the 
axe of the executioner become once more the sole 
engine of government. On reading this, I felt indig- 
nant, and I repaired to the Cabinet Council, holding 
in my hand the slanderous paper. Then, from the 
abundance of my heart, my mouth spoke. I said, 
that to take life from a man, except in case of actual 
self-defence, is to usurp a power which belongs to 
God; that a judge must be infallible who dares to 
inflict an irrevocable punishment ; that this sanguinary 
counterfeit of justice is more especially monstrous in 
time of social convulsions, when a conscientious error 
of opinion is so easily mistaken for a crime, when to be 
vanquished is to be guilty. I called upon my colleagues 
to remember how many illustrious personages were 
put to death within the last fifty years, whose heads 
dropped pell-mell with those of the most abandoned 
criminals into the same fatal basket. Even in a 
merely practical point of view, could any doubt be 
entertained about the necessity of disconnecting the 
new Republic from the dismal remembrance of the 
policy which, under different circumstances, was forced 
upon the old ? The still lasting terror created by the 
events of 1793 and 1794 being the most serious 
obstacle we had to contend with, the best way of 
removing it was to fling down the guillotine. More- 
over, any generous display of self-reliance on the part 
of the Provisional Government, was sure to make a 
favourable impression abroad, and to win the heart of 
the French nation, always ready to applaud whatever 
implies some idea of grandeur. 


Whilst I was speaking, M. de Lamartine stood mo- 
tionless at the other end of the room. He ran up to me, 
seized me by both hands with rapture, and exclaimed, 
" Ah! there you have accomplished a noble act!" 
A scene ensued of half- suppressed enthusiasm, at which 
crafty politicians will sneer perhaps. Be it so. We 
lay no claim to that sort of statemanship which con- 
sists in a systematic and vile disregard of every elevated 
principle of action. Old Dupont (de PEure) thanked 
God for having permitted him to live long enough to 
witness the thing that was done ; and we passed, with 
a feeling of religious emotion, the following decree, the 
second part of which was drawn up by M. de Lamartine, 
and the first by myself: — 

"The Provisional Government, convinced that 
grandeur of soul is the supreme policy, and that every 
revolution accomplished by the French people owes to 
the world the consecration of a philosophical truth ; 

" Considering that there is no sublimer principle 
than the inviolability of human life ; 

" Considering that, in the memorable days we have 
just gone through, the Provisional Government has, 
with pride, taken note that not a single cry for vengeance 
has issued from the lips of the people ; 

" Declare, 

" That, in their judgment, the penalty of death for 
political motives has been abolished, and that they will 
present this their desire for ratification to the National 

" The Provisional Government has so firm a con- 
viction of the truth they proclaim, in the name of the 


French people, that if the guilty men who have caused 
the blood of France to flow were in the hands of the 
people, it would be in their eyes a more signal punish- 
ment to degrade than to strike them." * 

Now, may I be allowed to call the attention of the 
reader to the fact that the man who prevailed upon the 
Provisional Government to adopt this decree, and who 
drew up its preamble, was precisely that one, by whom, 
on the same day,-\ the change of flag, from tricoloured 
to red, was demanded! a decisive proof that such a 
demand had not the slightest reference to terrorism 
and bloodshed ! 

To complete this statement, let me recal the words 
I uttered, on the 10th of March, from the tribune of the 
Luxembourg : — 

" The men who were impossible are suddenly become 
the men who are necessary. They were denounced as 
the apostles of the Reign of Terror. Well, their first 
act, when the Revolution swept them into power, was to 
abolish the punishment of death, and their most fondly 
cherished hope is to be enabled one day to lead you to 
some public square, and there, in all the splendour of a 
national fete, to set fire to the last remains of the scaf- 
fold." \ It must be added, to the credit of the people 
of Paris, that they hailed with tremendous cheers this 
appeal to the noblest part of human nature. 

As to the preference they gave to the red flag, it 
originated in a feeling as honourable as it was sound. 
That any stress should have been laid on a change of 

* See the Moniteur, 27th February, 1848. f Ibid. 

X See the Moniteur, 11th March, 1848. 


flag, may appear singular to Englishmen. Yet nothing 
is more congenial to the character and habits of the 
French than to attach a particular importance to what 
is meant to tell upon the imagination and to speak to 
the eye. 

What was the national colour in the remotest 
and most obscure ages of French history, is a point of 
no great importance. But if we refer to a more recent 
period, we find that the red flag, called oriflamme, was, 
from the reign of Henry I. to the time of Charles VII., 
the national standard ; whilst the white banner marked 
with fleurs-de-lys was what Froissart terms " banniere 
souveraine du roy" The white flag began to be sub- 
stituted for the red one under the reign of Charles VII., 
that is, at the very period when the baneful system of 
standing armies was established in France, for the sake 
of propping despotism. In 1789, the middle classes 
having raised themselves, over the ruins of the feudal 
regime, to the highest pitch of political power, Lafayette, 
on the 13th of July, moved, at the Hotel de Ville, the 
adoption of a new flag to be formed by the association 
of white, which was considered the colour of royalty, with 
red and blue, which were the colours of the Tiers Etat 

The tricoloured flag was, therefore, the result and 
the symbol of a compromise between the king and the 
people. Kings having been done away with, there was 
no reason why their past power should continue to be 
symbolised. The workmen of Paris could not, of course, 
be expected to act from any subtle historical knowledge; 
but they knew — and this was enough — that white meant 


kingly power,, and that red had long been the national 
colour. In their eyes the prestige of the tricoloured 
flag had been irrevocably broken by its having become, 
under the reign of Louis Philippe, the dishonoured flag 
of La paix a toutprix. To give it up was to repudiate 
seventeen years of corrupt policy, in the manner best 
suited to the tone of thought and feeling characteristic 
of the French people. So strongly were the people of 
Paris impressed with this idea, that no other flag was 
hoisted during the struggle than the red flag. Whence 
a natural desire to keep, after the victory, the standard 
under which the battle had been fought. 

Moreover, it was generally understood that to new 
institutions new emblems should be adapted. The 
royalists were suspected of fraud and artifice ; hatching 
plots were spoken of in every quarter ; even the Pro- 
visional Government was far from inspiring the people 
with an unlimited confidence, as it comprised new 
converts like M. de Lamartine, and more than one man 
whose conduct had betrayed an alarming disposition to 
accept the Regency of the Duchesse d' Orleans. Decep- 
tion was vaguely, still strongly dreaded, and the people 
wanted to be shown a token that the Republic would 
not be a brief halt on the road from a rotten monar- 
chical form of government to another not better or 
perhaps worse. 

The consequence was that, on the morrow of the 
Revolution, men wearing red ribands were to be found 
in every street, in every public square, in every public 
garden, and all along the quays. Lord Normanby tells 
us that he himself "saw some few of his countrymen 


walking about the streets with bits of red riband in 
their button-hole."* The red flag was spontaneously 
clamoured for; and the excitement grew so intense that 
we had to take it into serious consideration. Numbers 
of people stood on the Place de Greve, with red armlets 
and red cockades, whilst red flags were seen waving at 
the windows of the neighbouring houses, many on the 
roofs. A Cabinet Council was held. I urged the expe- 
diency of expressing by the very choice of a new symbol 
that royalty had been abolished for ever, that the old 
distinction between classes had ceased to exist, and that, 
above or apart the sovereign power of the nation, there 
was nothing henceforth to be represented, in the shape 
of a standard. On this occasion, my sole opponent, as 
far as I remember, was M. de Lamar tine, who showed 
himself reluctant to break off with the past by any such 
decisive step. However, the discussion was very calm 
on both sides, and M. de Lamartine began to give way, 
when, on a sudden, M. Goudchaux, the minister of 
finances, who happened to have been sent for, entered 
the room, protesting with vehemence against a display 
of popular force which he thought intended to inti- 
midate the Provisional Government. This supplied M. 
de Lamartine with an argument all the more pressing, 
as I felt my own pride deeply wounded at the bare idea 
of a decision which might be imputed to want of energy. 
It was then suggested that the best way of solving the 
problem would be to pass the following decree, which 
wss done, in consequence of the vote of the majority : — 
"The Provisional Government declare : 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 114. 


"The national flag is the tri-coloured flag, whose 
colours shall be re-established in the order which was 
adopted by the French Republic. On the flag will be 
inscribed these words : French Republic — Liberty, 
Equality, Fraternity, — three words in which the whole 
substance of democratic principles is embodied. The 
tri-coloured flag is the symbol of those principles, 
while its colours are meant to express their traditional 

ff Asa rallying sign and grateful recognition of this 
last revolutionary act, the members of the Provisional 
Government and all the public functionaries shall wear 
a red rosette, and a red rosette shall be fastened round 
the staff of the flag."* 

From this text, which M. de Lamartine took great 
care not to mention in his book, but which any one may 
read in the Moniteur of the 27th February, 1848, it 
follows that the discussion ended in a sort of treaty of 
peace between the two contending parties. Far from 
being rejected, the red colour was solemnly selected to 
represent the revolutionary power, and, according to 
the very terms of the decree, as a rallying point. 

It remained to make known the decision to the crowd 
gathered on the Place de Greve, a task for whose ac- 
complishment M. de Lamartine was the fit person, since 
the question now was to bring the people to acquiesce 
in the conditional maintenance of the tri-coloured flag. 

To describe and analyse M. de Lamartine' s nature, I 
could do nothing better than to apply to him what the 
author of " Jane Eyre" puts in the mouth of the heroine 

* See the Moniteur of the 27th February. 1848. 


of that most beautiful novel : " My sole relief was to 
allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions 
rose before it; and certainly they were many and glow- 
ing ; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant move- 
ment, which, while it swelled it into trouble, expanded 
it with life ; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a 
tale that was never ended, — a tale my imagination 
created and narrated continuously, quickened with all of 
incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in 
my actual existence." Such is M. de Lamartine. He is 
incessantly labouring under a self-exalting hallucination. 
He dreams about himself marvellous dreams, and believes 
in them. He sees what is not visible; he opens his 
inward ear to impossible sounds, and takes delight in 
narrating to others any tale his imagination narrates to 
him. Honest and sincere as he is, he would never 
deceive you, were he not himself deceived by the familiar 
demon who sweetly torments him. His eminent quali- 
ties I do acknowledge; but in his narratives I cannot find 
anything else than the confessions of a haschisch eater. 
Accordingly, I will not stop to refute the innume- 
rable and glittering fancies with which he has spangled 
the recital of his triumph over the stormy multitudes. 
Nor will I complain of the fantastic part he assigns to 
me, when he says I appeared to him like a pallid 
phantom, " a travers cette espece de nuage que V improvi- 
sation jette sur les yeux de Vimprovisateur" To discuss 
from an historical point of view mere optical illusions 
would be perfectly childish. Stripped of all exaggera- 
tions, the account of what fell out amounts to this (and 
my testimony is worthy of belief, since in that emer- 


gency I stood constantly near M. de Lamartine, and 
witnessed all that was going on) : 

M. de Lamartine presented himself before an armed 
crowd with praiseworthy courage, as did all his col- 
leagues on many a similar occasion, and on this very 
occasion, those among them who happened to be at the 
Hotel de Ville. There were in the throng a certain 
number of over-excited persons, as was the case daily 
for more than two months on the Place de Greve, at the 
Luxembourg, at the Prefecture de Police, everywhere. 
But the people at large did not seem disposed to any act 
of wild violence. That a shot might have possibly been 
fired by some unknown and unseen hand is not to be de- 
nied ; but I am bound in duty to state that the accounts 
of the transaction, all more or less copied from the 
fanciful recital of M. de Lamartine, have magnified the 
peril beyond measure. In reality, the prevalent feeling 
was a marked tendency to suspicion, nothing more. 
M. de Lamartine had a clear satisfactory explanation to 
give, but no general hostility to surmount. As for 
me, I was in a position of extreme perplexity, as I 
could neither speak contrary to my conviction against 
the red flag, nor make a public appeal in its favour; a 
step sure to be attended with the overthrow of the 
Provisional Government, at the risk of an immense 
and irretrievable confusion. Under such circum- 
stances, if anything fatal had occurred, it would have 
been my lot to suffer for an opinion which was not my 
own. But, I must repeat it, this was not very 
probable, as it is by no means congenial to the 
generous people of Paris to strike at men who, not 


being in a condition to defend themselves, come con- 
fidently forward. 

M. de Lamartine harangued the crowd in a strain of 
impressive eloquence, and succeeded in removing their 
suspicions, by affirming that the maintenance of the 
tri-coloured flag did not imply in any degree whatever 
retrogression to the past ; that the Provisional Govern- 
ment were resolved upon preserving the Republic, and 
that the tri-coloured flag was henceforth intended to be 
a Republican symbol. . In that way he went so far as to 
say that the reason why the tri-coloured flag ought to be 
preferred to the red one was, that the former had been 
carried round the world by our victorious armies, whilst 
the latter had only been dragged round the Champ de 
Mars in the blood or the people. 

How curious ! This argument, which made great 
impression at the time, and has been, ever since, so 
often re-echoed, rests upon a most extraordinary histo- 
rical blunder. It is absolutely untrue that the red flag, 
on the 17th of July, 1791, was dragged, at the Champ 
de Mars, in the blood of the people. Far from it ! In j 
violation of what was strictly prescribed by law, it was 
not even unfurled; and the unhappy Bailly was after- J 
wards sentenced to death on that very ground, because 
they urged against him that the unfurling of the red flag, 
in case of popular disturbance, had for its object to warn | 
the rabble, and to induce them to disperse, so as to 
prevent bloodshed. The fact is that if, on the 17th of 
July, 1791, the legal formalities had been observed, the 
most important of which was the unfurling of the red 
flag, the blood of the people would not have been shed 


at all ; as those gathered at the Champ de Mars were 
unarmed, actuated by no seditious feelings or warlike 
intentions, and quite disposed to withdraw, if warned 
in time.* 

I have another remark to make, and a singular 
remark too. That the red flag should be deprecated 
by the enemies of the Republic, on account of its 
having been erected over the barricades during the last 
struggle, was natural enough. But no such objection 
was set forth, because no one dared to whisper a word 
against the Republic. The popular emblem was there- 
fore denounced as being the portentous symbol of 
sanguinary and anarchical passions, which was indeed 
the height of impudence, if we consider that, till the 
Revolution of February, the red flag, according to the 
rules of " Martial Law," had never been displayed 
except in stormy times, by the appointed agents of the 
constituted authorities, and for the sake of preserving 
order ! So, a flag which, from the legal point of view, 
was the drapeau de Fordre, was on a sudden baptised 
the drapeau de VanarcMe by those very men who pre- 
tended to be les hommes d'ordre ! 

Who does not remember what followed ? M. de La- 
martine was extolled to the skies, for having got a 
signal victory over this most formidable enemy of 
humankind .... the red colour ; and it escaped the 
attention of everybody, it escaped the attention of Lord 

* Such as are anxious to "become acquainted with the details of that 
terrible event, will find them stated, at full length, either in the trial of 
Bailly, "Hist. Pari.," vol. xxxi., or in my "History of the French 
Revolution," vol. v., at the chapter entitled Massacre du Champ de 


Normanby himself, who was in constant communica- 
tion with M. de Lamartine, that the conqueror of the red 
colour was obliged to wear and actually wore a red 
rosette in his button-hole, in obedience to a decree to 
which he had appended his own signature ! 

Of course, it was given out by those hardened in 
their hatred to the Republic, that society had been seen 
for a moment verging to its utter destruction; that 
fortunately a few words issuing from the magical lips of 
M. de Lamartine had wrought a miracle ; and that, 
contrary to all human calculations, a Republic had 
actually been installed, without everything being put 
to fire and sword. 

Meanwhile, in Paris, where there was not a sergent 
de ville, not a soldier left, a hundred thousand famished 
workmen, armed to the teeth, were making themselves 
a voluntary police ; not a drop of blood was shed, 
owing to the conduct of the sanguinary partisans of 
the red flag, then in complete possession of the street ; 
the houses of the rich were guarded by the poor, and j 
men in rags stood as sentinels at the gates of their j 




The bands which carried the red flag had left the 
Place de Greve hardly an hour when it again began to 
be thronged with a highly excited crowd. Masses of 
people, urged by some new impulse, rushed into it, 
filling it with their clamours, which reached us, while 
engaged in organising the mairies. Suddenly, the 
council-door was flung open, and a man appeared, 
spectre-like. His face, savage in its look at the moment, 
but noble, expressive, and handsome, was of a deadly 
paleness. He had a gun in his hand, and his blue eye 
kindled, as he fixed his glance intently upon us. But 
whence came he, and what could be his object? He 
presented himself in the name of the people, pointed 
with an imperious gesture to the Place de Greve, and 
making the butt of his musket ring upon the floor, 
demanded the recognition of the " Droit au Travail!' 
I must confess that the bullying form of the summons, 
for a moment, roused in me a feeling of defiance ; but I 
instantly suppressed this inward protest, so unjust 
towards one who, after all, was only demanding his 
due. M. de Lamartine, who is as little versed in poli- 
tical economy as can be, and who fears any new idea of 


this class as children do ghosts, advanced to the stranger, 
and placing one hand upon his arm in a familiar, car- 
ressing way, addressed him, and went on evidently 
luxuriating in the copiousness of his own eloquence, 
the object of which was to puzzle the man into losing 
sight of his demand. Marche — such was the name of 
the workman— looked at the orator for a while with 
great earnestness, as though bent on penetrating into 
the real meaning concealed by this haze of words. But 
soon discovering that there was little there, he became 
impatient, rang his musket on the ground, and roughly 
broke in with the popular form of interruption : Assez 
de phrases comme ca 1 

It was now time for me to interfere. I drew Marche 
aside, and showed him a paper on which, while M. de 
Lamartine was speaking, I had written the following 
decree : — 

" The Provisional Government engage themselves to 
guarantee the existence of the workmen by means of 

"They engage themselves to guarantee labour to 
every citizen. 

"They take it to be necessary for the workmen to 
associate with one another, in order to reap the legiti^ 
mate reward of their toil." 

Marche, the deputy of that mighty crowd which stood^ 
in the Place de Greve, awaiting his return with grim im 
patience, seemed satisfied with the nature of the engage 
ment, but rather uneasy as to the prospect of its being 1 
executed. Perceiving this, I strongly impressed upo 
him the difficulties which lay in the way of accomplishin 


such a project, and urged the absolute necessity of 
patience and trust in the good will of the Government, 
on the part of the people j whereupon he approached 
M. de Lamartine, and addressed to him these memo- 
rable words : " Eh bien, Monsieur, le peuple attendra ; il 
met trois mois de misere au service de la Republique." 

The decree, in the form which I had drawn up, 
having been adopted by my colleagues, M. Ledru 
Rollin then proposing this additional clause, to which 
no one objected, though I internally felt that it was 
not a thing calculated to be agreeable to those for 
whom it was intended : 

" The Provisional Government restore to the work- 
men, who are its real owners, the million belonging to 
the late civil list, which will be soon due." 

As the above-mentioned decree has been made the 
subject not only of the severest but of the most abusive 
criticism, more especially in this country, it is natural 
that I should leave my defence in the hands of one 
whose authority the English people have long since 
learned to respect, — a man highly distinguished for his 
qualities both of head and heart, and incontestably the 
first political economist of our day, Mr. John Stuart Mill. 

" To one class of thinkers, the acknowledgment of 
the 'Droit au Travail' may very naturally appear a 
portentous blunder ; but it is curious to see who those 
are that most loudly profess this opinion. It is singular 
that this act of the Provisional Government should find 
its bitterest critics in the journalists who dilate on the 
excellence of the Poor-law of Elizabeth ; and that the 
same thing should be so bad for France, which is per- 


fectly right, in the opinion of the same persons, for 
England and Ireland. For the 'Droit au Travail' is 
the Poor-law of Elizabeth, and nothing more. Aid 
guaranteed to those who cannot work, employment to 
those who can; this is the act of Elizabeth, and this the 
promise, which it is so inexcusable in the Provisional 
Government to have made to France. 

"The Provisional Government not only offered no 
more than the promise made by the act of Elizabeth, 
but offered it in a manner, and on conditions, far less 
objectionable. On the English parochial system, the 
law gives to every pauper a right to demand work, or 
support without work, for himself individually. The 
French Government contemplated no such right. It 
contemplated action on the general labour market, not 
alms to the individual. Its scheme was, that when 
there was notoriously a deficiency of employment, the 
State should disburse sufficient funds to create the 
amount of productive employment which was wanting. 
But it gave no pledge that the State should find work 
for A or B. It reserved in its own hands the choice of 
its work-people. It relieved no individual from the il 
responsibility of finding an employer, and proving his j 
willingness to exert himself. What it undertook was, 
that there should always be employment to be found 
It is needless to enlarge on the incomparably less 
injurious influence of this intervention of the govern 
ment in favour of the labourers collectively, than of the 
intervention of the parish to find employment indi- 
vidually for every able-bodied man who has not honesty 
or activity to seek and find it for himself. 


"The 'Droit au Travail' as intended by the Pro- 
visional Government, is not amenable to the commoner 
objections against a Poor-law, it is amenable to the 
most fundamental of the objections, that which is 
grounded on the principle of population. Except on 
this ground, no one is entitled to find fault with it. 
From the point of view of every one who disregards the 
principle of population, the ' Droit an Travail ' is the 
most manifest of moral truths, the most imperative of 
political obligations. 

" It appeared to the Provisional Government, as it 
must appear to every unselfish and open-minded person, 
that the earth belongs, first of all, to the inhabitants of 
it ; that every person alive ought to have a subsistence 
before anyone has more; that whosoever works at any 
useful thing, ought to be properly fed and clothed 
before anyone able to work is allowed to receive the 
bread of idleness. These are moral axioms. But it is 
impossible to steer by the light of any single principle 
without taking into account other principles by which 
it is hemmed in. The Provisional Government did not 
consider, what hardly any of their critics have con- 
sidered — that although every one of the living brother- 
hood of human kind has no moral claim to a place at 
the table provided by the collective exertions of the 
race, no one of them has a right to invite additional 
strangers thither without the consent of the rest. If 
they do, what is consumed by these strangers should be 
substracted from their own share. There is enough 
and to spare for all who are born ; but there is not and 
cannot be enough for all who might be born; and if 


every person born is to have a first claim to a sub- 
sistence from the common fund, there will presently be 
no more than a bare subsistence for everybody, and a 
little later there will not be even that. The ■ Droit au 
Travail/ therefore, carried out according to the mean- 
ing of the promise, would be a fatal gift even to those 
for whose special benefit it is intended, unless some 
new restraint were placed upon the capacity of increase, 
equivalent to that which would be taken away. 

" The Provisional Government then were in the 
right ; but those are also in the right who condemn 
this act of the Provisional Government. Both have 
truth on their side. A time will come when these two 
portions of truth will meet together in harmony. The 
practical result of the whole truth might possibly 
be, that all persons living should guarantee to each 
other, through their organ the State, the ability to earn 
by labour an adequate subsistence, but that they should 
abdicate the right of propagating the species at their 
own discretion and without limit ; that all classes alike, 
and not the poor alone, should consent to exercise that 
power in such measure only, and under such regula- 
tions, as society might prescribe with a view to the 
common good. But before this solution of the problem 
can cease to be visionary, an almost complete renova- 
tion must take place in some of the most rooted I 
opinions and feelings of the present race of mankind/'' * j 

This is the light in which the subject has been viewed 

* Defence of the French Revolution of 1848, in reply to Lord Brougham 
and others. From the Westminster and Quarterly Review for April, 
1849, pp. 31 — 3D. 


by one of the most eminent philosophers and writers of 
this country. It must be observed that he finds no 
fault with the solemn acknowledgment of the " Droit 
au Travail" except in reference to the principle of 
population. His only objection is grounded on the 
supposition that society cannot endeavour to secure 
employment for all its members, without encouraging 
the increase of population, which should, on the con- 
trary, be kept within certain limits. With all due 
deference for the opinion of Mr. Mill, I beg to say, 
that even this objection loses much of its weight, as 
regards the constant practice of family-life in France. 
In France, there is no need of social restrictions or 
prohibitive regulations to prevent an ominous increase 
in the number of additional strangers in quest of " a 
place at the table provided by the collective exertions 
of the race." The check on over-population lies in the 
good sense and the foresight of each father of a family 
in good circumstances, who takes great care not to give 
existence to more children than his means allow him 
to support, and to put into a condition, when grown up, 
to support themselves. A statistical description of 
France has shown, of late, that the population there, 
far from increasing at any alarming rate, is rather 
stationary ; nor must we overlook the most striking 
fact that, if any excessive increase of population is to 
be noticed in France, it is precisely in the class of the 
poor and of the unemployed ; whence our French word 
prolct aires. And why so ? Because those have little 
business to trouble themselves with the future, who 
have no hold on the present ; because poverty and 


foresight are contradictory terms; because brutish 
sensuality is incident to a condition which affords no 
other sources of enjoyment ; because he who lives from 
hand to mouth, is naturally led to adopt for his children, 
as he does for himself, the proverb, " sufficient for the 
day is the evil thereof." How heart-rending, and still 
how unavoidable, the well-known French saying : A la 
grace de Dieu ! The consequence is, that a great 
falling- off of employment, by increasing poverty, in- 
creases the very number of improvident husbands, 
while the principle of the " Droit au Travail" wisely 
carried out, would have for its effect to check that over- 
growth of population, which accrues from the combined 
action of ignorance, carelessness, and forced leisure. 

However this may be, such as have indulged in so 
many abusive outpourings against the " Droit aw 
Travail" will do well to meditate upon the comparison 
drawn by Mr. John Stuart Mill between this most 
vituperated measure and the poor-law of Elizabeth. 
Let them not forget these remarkable words : " From 
the point of view of every one who disregards the prin- 
ciple of population, the ' Droit au Travail ' is the 


Whatever may be the opinion of the reader about 
the scientific value of the acknowledgment of the 
"Droit au Travail/' it cannot, at any rate, be denied 
that there was a singular elevation of thought and 
purpose in the demand itself. The people, at that 
moment, let it be remembered, were absolute and 
uncontrolled masters. Well, in this plenitude of 

"ministers du progres." HO 

their power, on the very morrow of a revolution, 
what did they exact ? Partem et Circences ? No : 
Bread through Labour ! Was that too much ? The 
difference of character in these two demands brings 
into strong relief the progress of our age, and that noble- 
ness of feeling so conspicuous in the people of Paris. 

When I drew up the decree acknowledging the 
" Droit au Travail" I was perfectly alive to the vast 
difficulties of the task ; but what I aimed at was to 
involve the government in an obligation to adopt such 
practical measures as were indispensable. Of these, 
the principal, of course, was the immediate creation of 
a special public department fully provided with all the 
means of carrying out the object. And this my pur- 
pose was quite in harmony with the construction which 
the people put on the decree. 

Accordingly, on the 28th of February, the Council 
having again assembled, we unexpectedly saw the 
people spreading over the Place de Greve, and ranged, 
as it were, in order of battle. Over them waved nume- 
rous banners, bearing these words : Ministere du 
Progres; Organisation du Travail. Almost imme- 
diately after, a deputation from the people was 
announced. Instant decision was required, and, with- 
out hesitation, I proposed that the popular request 
should be complied with. Since the Revolution had a 
social direction, why not present it at once in its true 
light? I argued that it would have been either 
childish or fraudulent to write on a scrap of paper 
the acknowledgment of the "Droit au Travail," if, 
when the time for action came, we did not proceed to 


use all available means of carrying the principle into 

To this view M. de Lamartine vehemently objected. 
He contended that we were not a constituent power ; 
that we had no right, in a matter of such importance, 
to forestall the decisions of the National Assembly about 
to be elected ; that he did not see the necessity of the 
proposed department, and that, with respect to the 
Organisation of labour, it was a thing he could not 
comprehend nor ever would. 

The majority of the Council went with him, upon 
which I on the spot tendered my resignation; as, 
according to my feeling, to assist in working a govern- 
ment on any other principle than one's own, is to stoop 
to the most degrading of humiliations, and he deserves 
to be ranked with the lowest of men who covets power 
for power's sake only. 

They shrank from accepting my resignation ; but as 
I persisted in pressing it, they offered me the presidency 
of a Commission, wherein, until the National Assembly 
was constituted, all social questions should be discussed 
and elaborated. 

Thus, in fact, instead of a department having at its 
disposal offices, agents, funds, administrative machinery, 
effective power, means of application, resources for 
action, it was proposed to have — what ? A stormy 
school established, in which it would be my task to 
deliver a course of lectures upon hunger to hungry 
people ! Need I say how warmly I declined the offer ? 

Then it was that M. Arago, his voice broken by 
emotion, adjured me not to persist in a refusal that 


would involve the rising of the people of Paris. Pointing 
to his grey hair, he appealed to me, in the name of his 
age. He stirred up in my heart all the powerful influ- 
ences of an old and unswerving attachment. He 
reminded me that he had been to me a father. He 
declared his readiness to sit in the Commission, and 
there to give me his assistance, in the capacity of a 
vice-president. I loved M. Arago, and I respected him 
as much as I loved him. Never for an instant had his 
sincerity been a matter of doubt to me. His self-denial 
in thus proposing to fill a subordinate position, and to 
discharge by my side perilous duties, embarrassed while 
it touched me. 

Cruel alternative ! — 

If I gave way, to me, to me alone, the multitude was 
sure to rush for relief, a multitude famished, restless, 
imperious, masterful : how little probable that I could 
either constrain them, with no means of enforcing 
obedience, or persuade them to postpone their demands, 
and to stand in silent revolt against their destiny ! 
/'"What could be more insane than to incur the over- 
\ whelming responsibility of a situation which I was 
\denied all practical means to control ! Are fair words 
a sufficient balm to the wounded hearts of men whose 
wives and children gasp for life? Should I not be 
accused of artfully cajoling the people into foregoing 
their most legitimate claims? Should I not expose 
ideas which I believed to be true, to the discredit into 
which they would certainly fall, from want of applica- 
tion ? If I gave way, I should find myself on the brink 
of an abyss. 


But if, on the contrary, I persisted in my determina- 
tion to resign, what might be the consequence ? Was 
not a popular insurrection likely to arise from a schism in 
the government under such circumstances and for such 
a motive ? In the midst of a civil war, would not the 
Republic run the risk of either getting furious or 
perishing? And since, by a strange fatality, I happened 
to be placed between two sorts of responsibility equally 
frightful, was it not my duty to accept in preference 
that which appeared to me bloodless ? 

These were the conflicting thoughts which distracted 
my mind, during such moments as will never fade away 
from my memory ! 

On the other hand, I said to myself that Mens 
agitat molem; that I was called upon to ascend a 
tribune from which I might advocate, so as to be heard 
by the whole world, those principles of eternal justice 
whose triumph had been the aim and the intellectual 
stimulus of my life ; that the diffusion of a noble idea, 
by the aid of a great moral power, was not a result to 
be disdained ; that it was not, after all, an unimportant 
privilege to bring under discussion, before an almost 
limitless auditory, the despotism of evil. Possibly I 
might be crushed in the struggle, but what of that ? 
The work would survive — the furrow be traced. 

These last considerations seemed to me powerful, if 
not absolutely conclusive, and I made up my mind to 
act accordingly. It was therefore agreed that a " Go- 
vernment Labour Commission m should be instituted 
at the Luxembourg. The deputation of workmen was 


A mechanic, completely bald-headed, of an iron mould 
and stern expression, came forward, holding a paper in 
his hand. With a monotonous but firm voice, that 
sounded like the beating of a hammer, he read a petition 
to the effect that a new ministerial department should 
be created, the Ministere du Travail. M. de Lamartine, 
hastening to sweeten the lip of the bitter cup with his 
most honeyed words, enlarged upon the expediency of 
a " Government Labour Commission," which he 
affirmed would answer the purpose, by framing plans 
afterwards to be adopted by the National Assembly. [ 
There is in the Parisian workman a singular acuteness 
of intellect. The members of the deputation perceived 
at once that mere speeches could not make up for \ 
action; that the largest part of France being still 
plunged in darkness, those to be elected by peasants 
under the influence of their landlords, w r ere not fit 
persons to solve the social problem, and that the surest 
\ way to make the Organisation of Labour appear imprac- 
ticable, was to deny me all practical means of realisation. 
They cast at M. de Lamartine a scrutinising look, and 
then turned to me, as if anxious to hear me give utter- 
I ance to their own thoughts. But I could not do it, 
without bringing the State to a chaos of confusion, by 
an aggressive disclosure of our internal dissensions. 
They guessed probably what I felt— what I suffered; 
for they had the generosity not to insist, and, after a 
moment of gloomy hesitation, they retired in silence. 

I drew up the following decree, which was published, 
the next day, in the Moniteur, with the signatures of all 
the members of the Provisional Government : — 


" Considering that the Revolution accomplished by 
the people must be intended for the people ; 

u That it is high time to put an end to the unjust and 
protracted sufferings of labourers ; 

" That the question of labour is one of paramount 
importance ; 

" That there is no problem more deserving of atten- 
tion on the part of a Republican government ; 

" That it is a duty more especially incumbent on 
France to look into, and to endeavour to settle, a 
question started in all the manufacturing countries of 
Europe ; 

" That it is advisable to think, without delay, of 
making him that works enjoy the legitimate reward of 
his work ; 

" The Provisional Government decree : 

" A permanent Commission shall be formed for the 
express purpose of inquiring into the social condition 
of the operatives. 

" In order to show how great is the importance the 
Provisional Government attach to the solution of such 
a problem, they place at the head of the ' Govern- 
ment Labour Commission * two of their colleagues, 
MM. Louis Blanc and Albert, the former in capacity 
of president, the latter, a workman himself, in that of 

" Workmen will be called upon to be members of the 
said Commission, the seat of which will be the Luxem- 

This decree was dated February 28 ; its publication 
in the Moniteur of the 29th, could not be expected to 


answer the sanguine expectations to which the Revolu- 
tion had given rise. 

Consequently, a new attempt was made by the most 
ardent among the working classes, and the agitation, 
this time, exhibited so threatening a character, that my 
presence was deemed necessary to calm the popular 
effervescence. I repaired in haste to the Place de 
Greve, whither M. Arago, prompted by a noble feeling, 
would accompany me. 

Here is the Moniteur's account of what took place on 
this occasion : 

"To day, at about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
nearly 6000 workmen belonging to various trades 
have made their appearance on the Place de Y Hotel de 
Ville, waving flags and demanding that a Minister e die 
Travail et du Pr ogres should be instituted. After 
receiving several deputations in the Council-Chamber, 
MM. Arago, Louis Blanc, Marie, Bethmont, as repre- 
senting the Provisional Government, descended from 
the Hotel de Ville and made their way through the 
crowd. M. Arago went on from one group to another, 
haranguing them, and was hailed everywhere by the 
warmest acclamations. M. Louis Blanc, addressing the 
people, said that the l Government Labour Com- 
mission/ already formed, would meet to-morrow at 
the Luxembourg, there to set to work immediately, 
with the assistance of all competent judges, and 
mainly of mechanics elected by their fellow-workmen." 
It was added by M. Louis Blanc that the power of the 
Provisional Government lay in the confidence of the 
people, and the strength of the people in their very 


moderation. He urged the necessity of their being 
firm, to keep in awe any ill-disposed persons, and calm, 
to allow the Provisional Government that freedom ot 
mind requisite for deliberation. 

" The speech of the honourable member was earnestly 
cheered; and as M. Louis Blanc, owing to his 
small stature, had entirely vanished in the crowd, two 
workmen, lifting him up, carried him on their 
shoulders round the Place de Greve, amidst loud 
acclamations." * 

Alas ! At the sight of this burst of candid and affec- 
tionate enthusiasm, I felt my heart rending, as it had 
now become doubtful to me whether I should be 
enabled to requite the popular sympathies by any 
efficient service. My mind kept wandering in a 
waste of dark conjectures and portentous uncertainty. 
Ominous was the fear evinced by almost all my col- 
leagues at the bare idea of anything like a social reno- 
vation. Would it be possible for us all to act in 
common ? If not, how fatal the consequences ! 

* See the Moniteur of the 1st of March, 1848. 




When I left school, I was scarcely of an age to look 
for employment. Still I found myself obliged to do 
so, on account of family circumstances which admitted 
of no delay. Among the friends of my family was a 
man of great merit, who had been vice-president of the 
Legislative Body during the Cent Jours, in which 
capacity he uttered, when the intelligence of the defeat 
of Waterloo reached the Assembly, these memorable 
words : " Du calme ! Messieurs, apres la bataille de 
Cannes, Vagitation etait dans Rome et la tranquillity 
dans le Senat." The gentleman I allude to was M. 
Flaugergues. He had not much influence at that 
period, owing to his liberal views and independent 
character ; but I knew he was acquainted with M. le 
due Decazes, then grand referendary of the House of 
Peers, and I applied to him. Of what took place, I 
have preserved a vivid recollection. One fine morning, 
M. Flaugergues took me to the palace of the Luxem- 
bourg, where we were ushered into the duke's bedroom. 
He was sitting up in bed, and reading the Constitu- 
tionnel. M. Flaugergues, after the usual formalities of 
introduction, requested him to exercise his influence on 


my behalf. M. Decazes turned round to me, and, 
tapping my cheek with his hand, in a lofty patronising 
way, said, " We'll see what can be done for the lad." 
We parted, nor did we meet again. Well, strange to 
say, on the First of March, 1848, it was the lot cf this 
lad to sleep in that very bed on which, many years ago, 
he had seen the duke sitting, and which the duke had 
just been obliged to vacate for his use.* 

This was singular enough ; but how much more 
extraordinary, in the way of contrast, the spectacle of 
an assembly of workmen in their blouses, opening their 
session in the gorgeous palace of Marie de Medicis, and 
in the very hall where the peers of France were wont 
to meet ! 

When I went to take possession of the Luxembourg, 
which had been assigned to me as a residence, I was 
accompanied by Albert, the vice-president of the 
" Government Labour Commission." I have not yel 
spoken of Albert. On the 29th of February, at th 
Cabinet Council held at the Hotel de Ville, there stooc 
among my new colleagues one person only whom I ha< 
never seen, a man of middle stature, with a pale 
regular -featured face, rather stern, but remarkable b;| 
its straightforward and yet watchful expression. T— ,, 
was Albert. Up to this time, a poor mechanic, udM,,. 
known to all save to his fellow-workmen of thjf 
faubourg St. Antoine, he had never moved in anil 
other class than his own. What struck me, therefor^! 

This visit to the Due Decazes was probably the occasion of t?" 
ridiculous story which has found its way in some so-called biographi 
respecting my introduction by Pozzo-di-Borgo to the Duchesse D 
whom I never saw in my life 

: ; . 


was the composure of his countenance, exhibiting 
neither pride, conceit, nor rudeness, and evincing, by a 
mixture of self-respect and modesty, that, though 
thrown so suddenly into the society of men like Arago 
and Lamartine, the latter especially conspicuous for 
his elegance of manner, he felt quite at home. While 
business was going on, he preserved an unbroken 
silence, and listened with great earnestness to every- 
thing that was said, at the same time casting at each of 
us in turn a calm but scrutinising glance. At the 
close of the Council, he rose, walked up to me, and 
said : " I see you really love the people." Then, with 
much warmth and frankness, he gave me his hand ; and 
from this moment we were friends. 

Albert was a man of no ordinary stamp. Employed 
as he had been from his early youth in manual labour, 
the culture of his mind could not fail to be neglected; 
but he had a great quickness of perception and a clear 
intellect, never to be dazzled by brilliant appearances 
or fascinated by artful eloquence. He spoke little, but 
sensibly and home to the point. His self-denying 
1 attachment to me may be said to have been heroic. 
How assiduously he contrived to keep in the back 
ground, to show me off to greater advantage ! How 
actively, when called upon to deal with his fellow- 
workmen, he exercised his influence in my behalf, 
always ready, in my absence, either to ascribe to me 
alone the merit of any welcome measure, or to assume 
the exclusive responsibility of any step open to mis- 
representation or blame ! And this was the more 
admirable, since his feelings towards me could only 

H 2 


have their source in his unbounded devotion to the 
cause I advocated, which he believed to be just. I say, 
therefore, without affectation, and as a tribute strictly 
due to him, that the noblest part performed at the 
Luxembourg was his. 

I think I may repeat here, as recorded at an earlier 
period, the impression I received on entering the de- 
serted palace of the Luxembourg. Dreary and silent 
were those spacious halls which a white-haired aristo- 
cracy had just left, to make room for a ragged people ; 
and, while traversing them, for the first time, in the 
dead of night, I felt as if my thoughts, like pallid 
phantoms, stood up around me. I at once perceived 
that in the dark, trackless waste I was about to cross, 
I was exposed to tread upon many a serpent sleeping 
in the shade. All the calumnies I should have to face, 
assumed a sort of corporeal form, and became, so toj 
speak, visible. My heart could not have throbbed wit 
greater agitation, had Faust himself been there, whis« 
pering these terrible words to me : " Ever has he bee; 
trampled upon, who, having a profound conviction, wi 
not wise enough to keep it secret, and conceal his view! 
from the knowledge of the world." 

Nor was anything better calculated to realise tin 
threat, than the views I had to proclaim. To trace 
new road, higher, much higher than the sphere 
party-spirit, to bring upon my head the blind enmit; 
of the upholders of old things, by showing thai 
poverty is slavery; to contrast the manifold advan- 
tages of the principle of association, gradually carriei 
out, with the evils of that system of competition whid 


makes the domain of industry a field of battle, and to 
set against me all those whose prosperity had been de- 
rived from the downfall of their neighbours ; to defy 
the littera scripta, the abiding words of the wealthy 
lords of the press, with no other shield than the 
evanescent shouts of the poor subsiding into 
long-lived, but unlettered, and, in so far, ineffectual 
sympathies ; and, what was still more difficult, to 
guard against all purposeless agitation those predis- 
posed by suffering to combat — living weapons so often 
thrown away after being made instruments of massacre, 
blood-stained dice in the game of false tribunes and 
ambitious leaders. . . . Such was the task that had 
to be accomplished, a hard one, indeed, full of bitter- 
ness and perils. I call God to witness that when I 
resolved to act, solely under the impulse of my con- 
science, I was the sport of no illusion. I knew that a 
society grown old in corruption and injustice is not 
easily to be shaken ; I knew that if a sick man, un- 
conscious of his disease, be told of it, he becomes 
irritated at the unwelcome warning. But he indeed 
would be a poor creature, who, having been raised to 
the highest station by the suffrage of his fellow men, 
should for a moment hesitate to fulfil his duties, what- 
ever the consequences to himself. I, therefore, made 
up my mind, and, my resolution once formed, I clung 
to it all the more strongly, since I was prepared for 
the worst; so that fortune, though it overwhelmed, 
neither surprised nor troubled me. 

Before I come to the proceedings of the Luxembourg, 
I think it necessary to give a brief exposition of the 


circumstances which made it imperative to institute, 
on the morrow of the Revolution, with a view to prac- 
tical and prompt results, a solemn inquiry into that 
department of social science, bearing especially on the 
question of labour. 

Long before the Revolution of February, a deep- 
seated evil was exhausting the French industrial world, 
and demanded extensive social reforms. Competition, 
— whose worst dangers England had warded off by her 
daring, her perseverance and genius, that is, by her 
dominion of the sea, by laying hold of the most 
distant markets, and accomplishing, through commerce, 
what Rome had done by the sword, the conquest 
of the world ; — in France was confined within a circle 
too narrow and too restricted, not to terminate, 
sooner or later, in the most fearful calamities. Thus, 
the industrial world was transformed into an armed 
camp, and industry became a deadly warfare; pro- 
duction was governed by no foresight, the blindest 
chance directing its feverish activity j merchants were 
compelled to live a precarious life and to play a terrible 
game, panting after the stake, between stoppage one 
day and bankruptcy the next ; all interests were op- 
posed to each other ; and to complete the confusion, 
crowds of labourers were there, eager to sell themselves! 
at the lowest price, every day increasing in number,! 
and every day more hungry and furious. Who does: 
not remember the social insurrection which broke out at! 
Lyons, in the reign of Louis Philippe, and the ominous 
motto which the workmen inscribed on their flag : " Let 
us live by working, or die fighting ? " 


I have in my possession a collection of letters 
addressed to me by different manufacturers, after my 
installation at the Luxembourg. Nothing can be more 
conclusive, and at the same time more melancholy than 
the testimony they offer. Some volunteer to make 
us a present of their establishments as being unable to 
continue them; others, in placing at the disposal of 
the government their buildings, raw material, and 
machinery, ask no better remuneration than to be 
appointed superintendents of establishments remodelled 
according to a new system ; and all loudly demand the 
intervention of the State for the protection of industry, 
which they prove must be utterly ruined if assistance 
were not speedily rendered. One thing which is not 
generally known is, that the expediency of framing a 
plan of social reform was suggested by vehement and 
repeated solicitations proceeding, not only from the 
workmen, but from many a large manufacturer, who 
had been reduced to unutterable distress, arising out 
of causes of long duration.* 

The Revolution of February, then, did not produce 
the commercial crisis; it merely showed it in all its 
intensity. It is the height of ignorance and childish- 
ness to attribute the convulsions of trade to the pro- 
mulgation of the very reforms intended to prevent them. 
Moreover, the Revolution was not the originating 
principle of those contemplated reforms, but served 
only to bring them more prominently into sight. For 
a long time, an under-current of opinion had been 

To publish all the letters confirmatory of this would, of course, be 
impossible. A specimen of them will be found in the Appendix No. 2. 


spreading among the people, which found no echo in 
the parliamentary tribune, and was but feebly heard 
in the daily press or other publications. While vulgar 
great men were endeavouring to satisfy their ambition 
in the ballot-box, and filled the world with empty 
noise, poor operatives, in the close atmosphere of their 
factories, supposed to be absorbed in the cares of their 
daily labour, were elevating their minds to considera- 
tions of vast import, living in the highest regions of 
thought, and studying the causes of the misery under 
which they groaned. Their hopes conceived a radiant 
future that would succeed the present diseased and 
enervated system. They inquired into the law of past 
social changes, to ascertain if civilisation had not yet 
another step to take; and observing that the lower 
classes had first ceased to be slaves, and afterwards 
to be serfs, stimulated by noble aspirations, they 
asked themselves if they should not now cease to be 
paupers, this being but a new form of slavery. But 
where could they find the means of enfranchising 
themselves? It had already been pointed out to our 
generation by this motto, the eternal glory of our 
fathers — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ; it only 
required to have a clear practical insight into the sense 
of the three terms of this sacred device : and here the 
natural instinct of the people of the great towns of 
France, especially of the people of Paris, did not 
deceive them. 

They understood : 

That Liberty is not only the right, but also the 
power, granted to every man to develop his faculties 


under the dominion of justice and the safeguard of 
the law ; 

That a diversity of talents and capabilities being 
a necessary condition for the existence of society, 
Equality consists in all having an equal scope for the 
development of their unequal faculties ; 

That, lastly, Fraternity is but the poetical expres- 
sion of that state of mutual dependence and harmony 
which will eventually make Society one great family. 

Therefore, they said : 

We must have done with the system of Laissez-faire, 
because it is the abandonment of the poor, the weak 
and the ignorant ; and for thousands of human beings, 
to let them alone is to let them die. 

Anarchical competition must be, by a series of 
gradual and practical measures, put an end to, because 
anarchy is nothing else than despotism run mad, and 
the contest between the strong and the weak cannot 
but terminate in oppression. 

There must be no more motives derived from the 
fierce antagonism of interests, because, where the 
success of one necessarily depends on the ruin of 
others, society is filled with hatred and verging on 
civil war. 

Such are the ideas that, for many years, were silently 
forming in the people's mind, — I do not speak, of 
course, of the French peasants, plunged as they are in 
deep intellectual darkness ; — I speak of the workmen 
of Paris and of all our principal manufacturing towns. 
But those who live in the upper circles of society, were 
utterly ignorant of the movement going on among 


the lower classes. The soi-disant statesmen of the 
monarchy, seemingly so wise in politics and legislation — 
your clever financialists — your celebrated manufacturers, 
had no idea that a new world was growing up beneath 
them. But the hour had to come, when they would 
be all of a sudden aroused, as it were, by a thunder- 
clap. That hour did come at last, and will ever remain 
in History as the Democratic and Social Revolution of 

It is absolutely beyond doubt that to the working 
classes a republican revolution, with no attempt at 
social reforms involving the question of labour, would 
have been a bitter disappointment; and the scenes 
already described show into what formidable extremities 
a disappointment of this kind might have hurried 

Under such circumstances a Government Labour 
Commission having been instituted, did the leading 
members of it put forth any pretension of changing 
society in a day by the application of some new system, 
sprung full-grown from their heads, as Minerva sprang 
armed from the brain of Jupiter ? Or did they show 
they had any intention of violating the principle of 
liberty by an abrupt and compulsory obtrusion of their 
views ? Here is the answer. 

Scarcely were Albert and myself installed at the 
Luxembourg, when we addressed to the workmen the 
following proclamation : — 

u Citizen Workmen, the Commission appointed to 
prepare the solution of the great problems in which you 
are interested is bent on its task. But however legiti- 


mate may be your impatience, we adjure you not to 
allow your exigencies to outspeed our researches. All 
the questions relating to the organisation of labour are 
complex ; they embrace a number of interests opposed 
to one another, if not in reality, at least in appearance ; 
they require then to be approached with calmness and 
examined with ripeness of judgment. Too great im- 
patience on your side, too great precipitation on ours, 
would only end in injury to both. The National 
Assembly will be convoked. We shall present to its 
deliberations the draft of laws we are now working out, 
with the firm resolution to ameliorate your condition, 
morally and materially; and on these schemes your 
own delegates are to be summoned to express their 
opinion." * 

Thus, to cast a prudent glance at the questions 
having reference to the moral and the material im- 
provement of the working classes; to expose frankly 
the results discovered or partially detected ; to accept 
discussion for a weapon, and public opinion for a judge ; 
to call upon that public opinion to pronounce itself 
pacifically by universal suffrage and through a National 
Assembly, such was the course which, from the first, 
we pledged ourselves to pursue, by a solemn and 
voluntary declaration. 

How we redeemed this pledge will be seen presently. 
In fact we did not go further than proposing a series of 
temporary measures, adapted to the existing order of 
things, and susceptible of immediate application. For 

The proclamation here referred to appeared in the Moniteur of 
March 9, 1848, signed by Albert and myself. 


we knew very well that, in the slow and painful journey 
of mankind towards a reign of justice, there are 
many stages to pass through, and that it is wise, nay 
indispensable, to proceed by gradual reforms. Who 
but a madman would dream of immediately trans- 
porting an ignorant and corrupt society into such high 
regions as lofty intellects may imagine or righteous 
hearts conceive ? But if he is a fool who thinks he 
can reach the end by destroying the road, no less fool 
is he who starts, not knowing whither he goes. When 
a mechanician is about to construct a machine, he cer- 
tainly does not think of striking it off in an instant ; 
still he designs his plan. When a poet composes a 
drama he puts one act after another most assuredly ; 
still he does not neglect to trace beforehand the 
general framework of his plot. The earnest pioneers 
of social progress can have no other method of 

A broad distinction must, therefore, be made between 
the principles which were regarded at the Luxem- 
bourg as the ultimate consequence of social science 
when fully developed, and the suggestions of a merely 
practical character which were propounded for imme- 
diate application. 

The former may be summed up as follows : 
Men have received from God certain faculties — the 
faculty of love, of knowledge, of action. But these 
faculties were not given us to employ in solitary iso- 
lation, since they essentially suppose a society in the 
midst of which they may be exercised. They are, con- 
sequently, the supreme indication of what each of us 


owes to the society of which he is a member ; and that 
indication God himself seems to have written with his 
own hand, in shining characters, in our organisation. 
If your strength is twice as great as mine, it is a 
proof that God has destined you to bear a burden 
twice as heavy as mine. If you are more intelligent, 
God has destined you to diffuse around you more light. 
Weakness is the creditor of strength, ignorance of 
instruction. The more a man can do, the more he 
ought to do ; and that is the sense in which we read 
the immortal saying of Christ : " Let the first among 
you be the servant of all." Hence, then: From every 


But, together with our faculties, we have been endowed 
by God with certain wants, intellectual, moral, physical : 
wants of the heart, of the mind, of the imagination. 
How can each of us fulfil his providential function, and 
accomplish his destiny, so long as social institutions 
do not lend themselves, in each of us, to the free deve- 
lopment of our entire being, by the satisfaction of those 
wants which the organisation of each induces? Hence, 
then, taking the word wants in its broadest and noblest 
sense : To every man — within the limits of the 


wants. Such is Right. 

To superficial minds, of course, but also to minds 
unaccustomed to deal with this class of subjects, these 
views will seem Utopian. Yet, if we take the trouble of 
analysing the matter a little, we shall find that they are 
not quite as visionary as they may appear. 

Respecting this question of wants, the very first 


objection that meets us at the threshold is the im- 
possibility to apply to them any standard of measure- 
ment. The truth is, on the contrary, that nothing can 
be more easily measured, since the measurement of a 
want is the force of the want itself. We cease to eat 
when we have no longer appetite, to drink when we 
have no longer pleasure in drinking, to walk when we 
feel tired, to read when the mind is weary, to sit at any 
kind of play when the enjoyment goes off, in fact to 
j>ersist in any want whatever, physical or moral, when 
it has received full satisfaction. We are speaking, of 
course, of wants that are healthy, not morbid, in a nor- 
mal, not in an exceptional state. And even in these last, 
there is a natural limit which cannot be passed. The 
difficulty is not, therefore, to find a measure for our 
wants, but to contrive such social arrangements as 
might secure to them their healthy development. But is 
this possible ? Can any state of society be imagined in 
which the rule : " To each according to his wants," can 
be realised to the contentment of all ? Well, it may 
be seen in operation daily. In the pivot institution of 
society, the family, it is not the member who produces 
most that necessarily takes most — often, exactly the 
reverse. Illustrations would be superfluous. But here, 
it may be said, the natural tie of affection accounts for 
the general contentment. This does not at all signify . 
moreover, instances which are not explicable by any 
such influence, are innumerable. Take a club. Here, 
a man, for a fixed sum, common to the members, has 
the use of its library, its billiard-room, its smoking- 
room, and so on. But he does not habitually make use 


of all, nor does lie think it a hardship that any of his 
fellow-members should be taking advantage of a greater 
number of these comforts than he does, or can do. 
Consequently, the principle : " To each according to 
his wants," is there in full operation, not from any 
feeling of moral sympathy, but simply for the sake of 
personal gratification. A club, therefore, is, on a small 
scale, the practical working out of the great object of 
Socialism, which aims at securing gradually to all the 
members of society the equal satisfaction of their 
unequal wants. 

But both justice and the interest of society require 
that every man should give as well as receive, and when 
receiving to the extent of his wants, that he should give 
to the extent of his faculties. Whence the correspond- 
ing duty : " From each according to his faculties." 

At this point arises the practical question : Can such 
a state of society be conceived wherein every man 
would be naturally induced to contribute according to 
his faculties ? Let us inquire into ite 

It is a truism that a man will do that most agreeably 
and effectively which he is by his nature best qualified 
to do. Now, in the present state of society, this capital 
fact is practically ignored, the adjustment of employ- 
ments depending, for the most part, on casual combina- 
tions, hereditary positions in life, and so forth. The 
labourer can only be by chance suited to his labour, 
which, in many cases, therefore, must be and is neces- 
sarily repugnant to him. Hence idleness, which is 
a violation of man's nature, a pure social creation. 
For nature has not given us faculties to remain 


unemployed : and to induce us to employ them, she 
has made the exercise of them, when voluntary, a 
pleasure. It is the satisfaction we derive from seeing, 
that disposes us to observe; it is the satisfaction we 
derive from hearing, that disposes us to listen. 
Accordingly, if there were a state of society in which 
this principle of congruity, this adaptation of man's 
faculties to the ends most gratifying to them, obtained, 
then labour would be carried to the highest amount 
of development in each, without any other stimulus 
than the gratification of a natural want. 

To show that this is not, in itself, an unattainable 
result, and also to what an extent education can mould 
the character, and supply us with new standards of 
opinion and feeling, I will give the following remarkable 

In May 1848, I received a visit from a gentleman 
named Allier, the director of an industrial school for 
pauper children at Petit Bourg. He came to invite 
me to see his institution with Monsieur and Madame 
Victor Hugo and their daughter. We all went. On 
our arrival, M. Allier at once took us into the work- 
shops, where a number of children were being taught 
a variety of handicrafts. The cheerful eagerness with 
which they applied themselves to their tasks was ex- 
tremely striking. One might really have thought 
them a group of boys, not working, but playing at 
work. This became still more remarkable when we 
entered the smithy, where the first thing wc noticed, 
amid the smut and din, was a child merrily ham- 
mering away at a piece of iron, with a look joyous, and 


bright as the sparks that were flying about him — and 
this before a hot fire, in a hot spring day. We were 
then conducted to the garden, and there found a host 
of tiny gardeners busily engaged ; some cultivating 
flowers, some watering borders, others tending vege- 
tables. The glowing faces of the children, the brilliancy 
of the day, the beauty of the spot, on very high ground, 
commanding a splendid view, of which I was reminded, 
on my first visit to the Crystal Palace, presented a 
delicious scene. As I gazed upon it, I could not help 
i thinking that the young Vulcans in the pandemonium 
j we had just left, must have some slight envy of the 
| more fortunate tenants of this little Eden. On my 
making the remark, " Well," triumphantly exclaimed 
M. Allier, " this is a mere matter of choice. All these 
children are doing precisely what they prefer, and 
therefore that air of cheerful ardour which has so much 
struck you." Seeing us look surprised, he proceeded 
to explain that, after the opening of the institution, it 
had been the practice to assign the occupations accord- 
! ing to some arbitrary preconceptions of fitness, which 
proved to be a failure, as the children soon got tired 
of their work, grew weary and listless, and were con- 
stantly soliciting a change of employment. "Then," 
added M. Allier, "we hit upon a new plan. 
Whenever a child comes to us, we give him the free 
range of the workshops for a month, allowing him to 
try his hand at anything he likes. At the end of the 
time, he is required to fix upon some one occupation, 
with a clear understanding that he is to keep to it. 
The result is what has so much astonished you." 


This needs not a word of comment. But now came 
something still more astonishing, which I particularly 
recommend to the attention of those ready to declare 
beforehand impossible what, within their own expe- 
rience, is new and untried. 

As we went through the building of Petit Bourg, 
our attention was directed to what we were informed 
was the place of punishment. There we saw a poor 
little fellow sitting ; in fact, a prisoner. Moved at the 
contrast between him and his fellow- pupils, we asked 
for his pardon — a request with which M. Allier good- 
naturedly complied, as a compliment to us. He set 
the boy at liberty, saying to him in a tone of admoni- 
tion, " Tell your friend not to do it again. " One may 
well imagine that a scolding of the sort was a perfect 
mystery to us, until M. Allier solved it in this unex- 
pected way : " It is now," he said, " the custom of the 
school that every new comer must, after a certain time, 
publicly choose some one of his fellow-pupils as his j 
friend ; and the aim is to instil into them, in their I 
relations with each other, a sense of reciprocal obliga- 
tion, of kindness, and self-sacrifice. This is turned to 
account in a singular manner. When a boy has com- j 
mitted a fault — now, pray keep your countenance — it 
is not he who is punished, but his friend." In spite of 
the recommendation, we could not keep our counte- 
nance, but alluded to the story of certain little princes 
who, whenever they got into a scrape, were vicari- 
ously flogged in the person of their plebeian friends. 
"Aye," replied M. Allier, laughing; "but there was 
no reciprocity there." The fact is, that since thisj 


experiment has been in operation, the number of faults 
committed has wonderfully diminished. The most 
obdurate boy, who would have been made sullen by 
punishment, shrinks from the idea of exposing an 
innocent companion to the penalty of his offence, whilst 
the sufferer converts a punishment, unattended with 
shame, into a positive honour, by submitting to it with 
fortitude; so that, in point of fact, the whole moral 
retribution falls upon the offender." 

Of course, I do not mention this curious proceeding 
with a view of recommending its adoption, but only to 
illustrate the amazing power of education in supplying 
unexpected motives to action, and making that appear 
natural and just which previously had been considered 
contrary to nature and unjust. But to return. 
l/That men are unequal in strength, in talents, in 
wants, is self-evident, but society has been formed 
precisely in order to prevent this natural inequality 
from becoming a source either of oppression or suf- 
fering.^) Unfortunately, the social aim has not been 
reached as yet, and while no man physically stronger 
than another is suffered to crush him, the existing 
order of things affords us, under the deceitful name of 
free competition, the sad spectacle of a permanent 
struggle where the ignorant and the poor are left un- 
protected against any such persons as may be tempted 
to abuse the power of intelligence or that of money. 

Were society constituted according to the laws of 
reason and justice, all its members, without exception, 
would have their place at the banquet of life, after 
having been equally invited, when children, to take 

i 2 


their place at the grand sources of human knowledge, 
that is after having been enabled, from their earlier 
age, to manifest and to develop their different capacities 
and their unequal aptitudes. The speciality of voca- 
tions beiug thus asserted, every man, instead of being 
bent down, by poverty coupled with ignorance, under 
the yoke of a kind of labour reluctantly uudertaken, 
often foreign to his natural dispositions, would be called 
to fulfil his vocation and to occupy that post in society, 
for which God himself, when he created him with 
certain peculiar qualities and predominating tastes, had 
in some sort designed him. 

Such speculations as these are, of course, merely 
philosophical. No political man, no member of the 
Provisional Government, having to deal with the situa- 
tion, could have laid them before the people, as suscep- 
tible of even a remote application, without justly 
incurring the accusation of encouraging an idle dream. 
But to declare that they are contrary to the very nature 
of things, or that the end descried in the far distance 
is necessarily and absolutely unattainable, would be to 
risk an assertion neither philosophical nor practical. 
It is, indeed, a truism that it has always been the fate 
of a new idea to be reputed impossible, till it had 
received application ; it has become almost trite to 
remind one's audience that the precursor of Watt was 
thrown into a lunatic asylum, by way of recognition of 
his sublime discovery ; that Galileo was forced to demand 
pardon on his knees for having professed the impious 
error of the earth's rotation, and that in the history of 
knowledge, every accepted fact has been at its birth 


Utopian. The question is, therefore, to examine if the 
principles above stated are in themselves rational and 
calculated to prove beneficial to the community, it 
being understood that even though viewed in this light, 
we are nevertheless to proceed to their realisation with 
much caution, slowly, and to pause at each intermediate 
station as long as may be requisite. 

Were this realisation to be declared for ever impos- 
sible, what would be the consequence ? — That, for most 
of the members of society, social liberty itself would 
be hopelessly impossible; inasmuch as social liberty, 
according to the very definition given of it by the 
upholders of the existing order of things, " consists 
in following that occupation which is best suited to 
one's talents, and in choosing one's own profession." * 

Now, it would require an unusual amount of boldness 
to affirm that, in society as constituted at present, such 
is the case. Are those poor children free to enter the 
career of the law, to devote themselves to literature, 
to aspire after the lucrative offices of finance, who, in 
order to increase a parent's wages by the fruit of their 
infantine labour, are sent at the age of seven or eight 
to a factory, where the germ of their intellect is 
blighted, their soul's health ruined, and all their facul- 
ties engaged in watching a wheel ? Are those youths, 
the poor man's sons, free to follow the bent of their 
inclination for agriculture or commerce, whom their 
helpless position devotes to military functions, turning 
death into a means of livelihood ? And are those frail 

* Thus did M. Thiers express himself in the National Assembly on the 
13th of September, 1848, when the Rigid to Labour was controverted. 


women free to become honest matrons, who, according 
to the melancholy account of Parent Duchatelet, are 
irresistibly driven into a life of prostitution by the 
depth of their misery? Who can deny that, under 
the present system, it is, in most cases, chance and 
not the natural law of talents and vocations, that 
decides the choice of a man's career? Who can deny 
that the fundamental vice of this system, is to disor- 
ganise and destroy all arrangements for the harmonious 
adaptation of pursuits to talents ? Exceptions may be 
cited : but how few those are who, gifted with extra- 
ordinary energy, and aided by peculiar circumstances, 
have succeeded in overcoming the obstacles that sur- 
round the poor man's cradle ! The poor man free, 
indeed ! In France, we do not even leave him the 
liberty of enjoying the roadside causeway or the pave- 
ment of our streets ; for if, from want of work, he 
asks our charity, we punish him as a beggar; or, if 
being without a better shelter, he sleeps upon our 
palace-steps, we imprison him as a vagabond. No, the 
poor man has not that social liberty without which it is 
hardly worth while living — scarcely, indeed, does the 
rich man himself enjoy it, enslaved as he is by social 
prejudices and despotic follies. Louis XVI., who, 
being passionately fond of locksmith's work, would have 
made a happy and respectable locksmith, owing to the 
accident of his birth, was compelled to leave his crown 
on the scaffold ; and many a man has died on a mattrass, 
after having lived in a garret, who had in him the 
germs of an intellect that might have governed empires. 
If a proof of this be needed, it will be found in revolu- 


tions, which, by agitating society, and tearing off the 
surface, have so often dragged from their depths 
talents that have astonished mankind. To any im- 
partial observer of facts, it is obvious that the present 
state of society, as far as scientific social arrangements 
are concerned, is but a practical negation of the, now 
inexorable, maxim : " The right man in the right place" 

The evil is undeniable, and it originates in the fact 
that, in virtue of pre-existing social systems, all the 
roads to intellectual or moral improvement, all the 
means of education as well of subsistence, all the imple- 
ments of labour, lands, and raw materials of every kind, 
are in the possession of a comparatively small portion 
of society : a state of things, the consequence of which 
is that a great part of the community are denied, from 
the very threshold of life, the necessary means of 
developing their natural powers, and must, accordingly, 
live, not as they ought and choose, but as they can. 

Nor is this all. To those who would encourage them 
to labour, in the hope of becoming possessors, how 
many poor creatures might, with good reason, reply : 

You call us to work ! But we have neither ground to 
till, nor wood to build with, nor iron to forge, nor wool, 
silk or cotton to make clothes withal. Nay, are we not 
forbidden to pluck that fruit, to drink of that fountain, 
to hunt those animals, to take shelter under that tree ? 
We stand in need of life itself as of labour : because, 
when we came into the world we found all around us 
invaded; because laws, that were made without our 
sanction, and before our birth, have left to chance the 
care of our destiny ; because, in virtue of those laws, 


the means of labour, which the earth seemed to have 
granted for the use of all her children, have become the 
exclusive property of a few. Theirs it is to dispose of 
us, for we have not the power to dispose of ourselves. 
We are quite ready to work — but does that depend 
upon our will alone ? And, when yon cannot, or dare 
not, ensure us employment for our hands, how could 
you ensure us the fruits of our labour? Is there any 
chance that the product of our toil will be for us or 
for our children ? Alas ! our helplessness places us at 
the mercy of others, who offer us, in exchange for the 
results of our teeming activity, not that which we have 
created, but a pittance just enough to prevent us perish- 
ing in the act of producing, — a pittance which the stress 
of competition constantly tends to grind down to the 
lowest level of the bare necessities of life, and which, if 
even it left room for saving, must be swallowed up the 
first idle day that occurs from bad times or illness. 
How is it that the reapers should hunger for a loaf, 
that the weavers of precious silks should be clothed in 
rags, and that the builders of palaces should be some- 
times at a loss to find where to lay their heads ? 

Such was the complaint which, on the morrow of the 
Revolution of February, was raised by hundreds of 
thousands of operatives, not only in Paris, but in all 
the principal towns of France ; and, as far as I am 
concerned, I could not deny the evil, without ceasing 
to be true to myself. On the other hand, far from 
complacently nursing chimeras, or aiming at abrupt 
violent changes, which, in my opinion, would have been 
detrimental to the people themselves, I made it my 


study to propose such a plan as could be carried out 1 
by a series of partial, progressive measures, expressly 
intended to prevent any individual from suffering injury. 

It struck me that society was making, every day, 
through its representatives, trial of all sorts of destruc- 
tive engines, and spending much time, as well as much 
money, in all sorts of petty experiments, while nothing 
was tried to ascertain what mode of social relations was 
most likely to be conducive to the happiness of the 
different members of the community. I thought that 
a question so vital to the welfare of a nation, was worthy 
of calling forth the exertions of real statesmen. 

Then came the consideration, in what manner they 
could advantageously interfere? 

Here I will just observe that, in England, the prin- 
ciple of advancing public money in aid of private 
enterprises is not unpractised. The grant of money 
by the Privy Council to individuals associated for the 
purpose of erecting and conducting schools, under 
certain stipulated conditions, and subject to a certain 
control, is a remarkable instance. These grants, more- 
over, it must be remarked, were so entirely the act of 
the executive as to give rise, on that account, to great 
opposition, especially from the late Sir Robert Peel, 
when they were first brought under the notice of the 
Legislature in 1849, his objection being directed against 
the issue of any public money, without the previous 
sanction and vote of parliament. Nevertheless, the 
practice has been maintained up to a late period, when 
it received some modification. 

Well, the scheme I proposed, at the^Luxerabourg, 


was based on the same principle, free, in its working, 
from the objections of Sir Robert Peel. For the differ- 
ence between my industrial plan and the educational 
practice of England, was : First, that, in my own, the 
grant would have been a loan secured by mortgage on 
the establishment to which it was advanced, and not a 
mere donation ; Secondly, that no such grant could have 
been made by government, except under stipulations, 
not prescribed by the executive, but resulting from the 
deliberations and vote of a National Assembly born of 
universal suffrage. 

In short, the plan propounded, at the Luxembourg, 
amounted to this : 

The State — by which I mean the nation acting as a 
whole — would have called upon a determinate number 
of effective labourers, belonging to both agricultural 
and industrial pursuits, to volunteer to form associa- 
tions working on the co-operative principle, under 
stipulations meant to secure the accurate application of 
that principle, that is the combined action of individual 
efforts for a common end and joint benefit. The work- 
men, thus selected, if willing to offer themselves, would 
have received from the State such a loan to be repaid 
with interest, as might be required to enable them, 
after a reasonable time, to become self-supporting. In 
this manner would a great national experiment have 
been accomplished. 

Nor was the principle of co-operation to be confined 
to the members of each association, but it was to be 
established between the various associations, through 
the agency of a general relief fund contributed by all 


of them, so that, when any one branch of trade was 
momentarily embarrassed, it would be assisted by those 
in a more prosperous condition. 

That, in suggesting a scheme of this kind, we were 
not doing anything to shock the sober and practical 
intelligence of the English people, may, I presume, be 
justly inferred from the view which has been taken of 
it by one whom the " Economist " — a paper least of all 
likely to have any sympathy with my views — recently 
spoke of as the first political economist of the day, Mr. 
John Stuart Mill. He says : 

" This is Socialism ; and it is not obvious what there is 
in this system of thought, to account for the frantic terror 
with which everything bearing that ominous name is 
usually received on both sides of the British Channel. 

" It really seems a perfectly just demand that the 
government should aid with its funds, to a reasonable 
extent, in bringing into operation industrial communities 
on the Socialist principle. It ought to do so, even if 
it could be certain beforehand that the attempt would 
fail ; because the operatives themselves cannot possibly 
be persuaded of this except by trial ; because they will 
not be persuaded of it until everything possible has 
been done to make the trial successful ; and because a 
national experiment of the kind, by the high moral 
qualities that would be elicited in the endeavour to 
make it succeed, and by the instruction that would 
radiate from its failure, would be an equivalent for the 
expenditure of many millions on any of the things 
which are commonly called popular education." * 

* "Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review," April 1849. 


Such was the plan which has been made the subject 
of so many misrepresentations ; it simply consisted in 
laying, in the midst of the present social system, left 
untouched, the foundations of another system, that of 
co-operative production, the latter being established as 
a vast national experiment, with the assistance, and 
under the control of the State. 

As a consequence, two great modes of Industrial action, 
an old and a new one, would have been placed face to face : 

The one, based on the principle of antagonism ; the 
other, on the principle of co-operation : 

The one, stimulating individuals to an eager pursuit 
of their own purposes, irrespective of the interests of 
others, or even in absolute hostility to them ; the other, 
necessarily leading each individual to identify his own 
interest with that of the whole : 

The one, therefore, sowing discords, jealousies, 
hatreds ; the other, enforcing concord as the sine qua 
non of success : 

The one, resembling a duel, in which the safety of 
one too often demands the destruction of the other, 
and is not unfrequently attended with the destruction 
of both; the other, a really emulative movement, 
wherein the principle of action is also a personal interest, 
but requiring, for its satisfaction, that sense of duty 
which proceeds from an habitual sympathy with, and a 
necessary fidelity to, the prosperity of all : 

The one, fostering a production which gambles away 
its substance on a blind computation of chances ; the 
other, creating a production proportioned to the fore- 
seen wants and exigencies of the market : 


The one, consequently, making success the uncertain 
result of lucky sagacity ; the other, the certain reward 
of scientific knowledge. 

At any rate, experience being called upon to deter- 
mine which was the best of the two, the best would 
gain ground little by little, without violence, without 
commotion, on account of its attractive power, while 
the worst would gradually disappear, from the very fact 
of its inferiority being practically proved and generally 

These were the famous theories of the Luxembourg, 
these were the speculations addressed to an excited and 
victorious multitude, not — mark it well — as ideas sus- 
ceptible of a full immediate application, but serving as 
land-marks to direct the march of society towards a 
more prosperous condition, which only their posterity 
would have any chance of enjoying. Nor have I 
attempted here to soften down the bold character of 
these views, my object being to bring out in strong relief 
the spectacle, unique in history, of a great population 
deriving from abstract doctrines inducements to en- 
lightened resignation. On this extraordinary fact, an 
able writer, whose social opinions do not exactly coin- 
cide with my own, has thus expressed himself : 

" Was it nothing to have changed a population 
armed to the teeth into a deliberative body ; to have 
turned cries of disorder into peaceful harangues, and 
the anguish of hunger into patient hopes? What 
other people was ever known to forget its wretchedness 
while listening to philosophic theories, or to take off 
the edge of its hunger by intellectual food? What 


other government ever yet dared to present itself as a 
subject for discussion, to challenge the spirit of inquiry, 
and the subtlety of paradoxical views ? What greater 
evidence of its force, its morality, its profound con- 
sciousness of being in the right, could be afforded than 
this appeal to a popular council composed of the people, 
and commissioned to elaborate the articles of a new 
faith ? When were ever civil wars brought to a similar 
conclusion ? " * 

* Histoire du Gouvernement Provisoire, par M. Ellas Regnault, p. 127. 





The first sitting of the Government Labour Com- 
mission took place at the palace of the Luxembourg, 
on the 1st of March, 1848. 

At nine in the morning, about two hundred work- 
men, sent as deputies by the various trades-unions of 
Paris, having taken their seats in the places formerly 
occupied by the peers of France, I entered the room 
accompanied by Albert. As we made our appearance, 
an enthusiastic cry of iC Vive la Republique ! " shook the 
walls, immediately followed by a solemn silence ; and, 
after a few remarks on the novelty and greatness of the 
scene before me, I proceeded to explain the object of 
the Government Labour Commission, which was to 
inquire into all social questions, to embody in a bill, 
to be laid before the National Assembly, the results of 
their deliberations, and, meanwhile, to listen to the 
most urgent appeals of the working classes, with a 
view to doing all that was possible and just. 

Thereupon, a jworkman rose, and, in the name of 
his comrades, made two demands, which, he said, 
required immediate attention. They were as follows : 
the shortening of the hours of labour ; abolition of 


Marchandage, that is to. say, the employment of work- 
men by middle-men, or sweaters. 

But I observed that the first step to be taken was to 
organise the representation of the working classes at 
the Luxembourg, for which purpose I suggested that 
every craft should elect three delegates, one of whom 
should take part in the daily labours of the Govern- 
ment Labour Commission, and the two others in 
general meetings, to receive reports submitted to them 
for their deliberation and discussion. In other words, 
I proposed to instal at the Luxembourg, in a regular 
wajr, a Labour-Parliament — a proposition which was 
carried amid rapturous acclamations. 

Now came the hour of trial. The two demands 
previously addressed to me were resumed and insisted 
upon with an almost threatening vehemence. Sojle- 
termined were the workmen to gain their., point, that 
they would not allow delay ; and, I am bound to 
declare, in justice to them, that nothing could be 
nobler than the considerations they urged: "We 
insist," they said, " on the shortening of the hours 
of labour, that there may be more employment 
at the disposal of our fellow workmen who stand 
in need of it, and that every one of us ma}^ have, at 
least, one hour to live the life of intelligence, the life 
of heart and home. Again we ask for the abolition of 
Marchandage, because it is odious that there should 
be between the head manufacturers and the working j 
men rapacious interlopers who reap their profits 
out of the skill, strength, and earnings of the men, 
and, however generous may be the head manufac- 


turer, cause wages to decline so as to reduce us to 

These representations were in full accordance with 
my own feelings and views, as developed in my 
writings. Still, I did not permit them to weigh 
with me so far as to induce me to act upon them, with- 
out having previously appealed to the employers for 
their advice on so delicate a subject. This I did not 
hesitate to express in frank, energetic language, and 
then to call their attention to various objections that 
had been made, more especially as regards the shorten- 
ing of the hours of labour. Would not this, it had 
been asked, be to diminish production, to raise the 
price of produce, to restrict consumption, to run the 
risk of being under-sold on our market by foreigners, — 
a circumstance too well calculated to be prejudicial to 
the workman himself ? I proceeded to say that these 
were objections deserving of serious consideration ; 
that it was the interest of the working classes to keep 
their demands within moderate limits, and to reflect 
that, in the actual form of our economical organisation, 
eveiy step forward, however small, could not fail to be 
attended with risk and perplexity. 

My address, on this occasion, was not, I must confess, 
as warmly received as it would have been a little later, 
when we became better acquainted with each other. 
There was a gloomy silence, forerunner of some coming 
struggle, and indeed, scarcely had a minute elapsed, 
when a great number of workmen, rising altogether 
and talking loud, declared that no kind of labour 
should be resumed until the two demands had been 


conceded. Painful in the extreme was my position. 
My personal opinion, nay my heart, were undoubtedly 
on the side of the workmen; but it seemed to me 
neither prudent nor just to decide out of hand so 
delicate a question, without hearing both parties ; and, 
as this was our first meeting, I at once resolved to 
show, from the beginning, that I would not allow myself 
to be made instrumental in accomplishing anything 
which I did not think strictly right. I, therefore, per- 
sisted in saying that, before any further step was taken, 
every class of interests should be consulted, so that 
justice might be done to all. 

At this moment, M. Arago unexpectedly entered. 
He had heard what was going on, and, in fulfilment of 
the promise he had made, at the Hotel de Ville, to aid 
me in my difficult task, he now came manfully to give 
them his support. 

Whoever has seen the man, with his tall figure, his 
noble and handsome face, still more interesting from 
the pallor left by recent illness, and his keen, flashing 
eyes, shaded by shaggy eye-brows — all this heightened by j 
his world-wide reputation, may well imagine the instant |i 
and deep impression he produced on the assembly. 

Soothing and persuasive were the few words he 
addressed to the workmen ; and I took advantage 
of their effect to make a pressing appeal to their 
patriotism and to claim their confidence. " To risk i 
one's life on a barricade or in a battle," I said,! 
"requires no doubt great resolution; but, believe me,j 
it requires a still greater energy of will to make oneself; 
responsible for the lives of others. Do vou think we; 




would have undertaken so formidable a responsibility, 
had not our determination to discharge it been indomi- 
table? But, for the successful performance of our duty, 
we need your assistance; our force is derived from you, 
and this force is the confidence you repose in us, which 
we demand in exchange for our devotion to your case." 

That men who had erected barricades, overthrown a 
government, and displayed a courage worthy of veteran 
soldiers, should have permitted themselves to be con- 
quered by fair words alone, is certainly one of the most 
marvellous proofs of the intelligence and the generosity 
of the people of Paris. Well, such was, then, the 
case ; no further resistance was made or even thought 
of; no murmuring was heard ; and the assembly sepa- 
rated with joyful cries of Vive la RepubHque ! 

Immediately afterwards, I dispatched several active 
citizens on horseback to invite the employers of every 
i description of labour to a general meeting. This was 
held, on the following day, at eight o'clock in the 
morning, at the Luxembourg, and attended by a great 
number of employers. The question being brought 
under their consideration, was calmly discussed; and 
the majority of the master-workmen having yielded of 
their own accord to the workmen's requests, from a con- 
viction either, of the propriety of concession, or the 
peril of refusal, the consequence was the issue by the 
Provisional Government of a decree abolishing the 
objectionable kinds of Marchandage, and shortening 
the hours of labour from eleven to ten in Paris, and 
from twelve to eleven in the provinces. Need I add 
that this news was received with loud acclamations by 

K 2 


the deputation of workmen who, throughout the day, 
thronged around the palace ? 

I have dwelt upon the particulars of this first transac- 
tion, to show how little we were open to the reproach 
of mob-sycophancy. As to my having inflamed the 
people, and instilled into them dangerous and chime- 
rical hopes, the reader will be soon enabled to judge 
how unjust this accusation is, which has so often and 
so complacently been levelled at me. To the bold and 
false assertions of Lord Normanby I will oppose decisive 
proofs; although I might dispense with them, having to 
quote in my favour the following passage of Mr. John 
Stuart Mill, whose approbation, confined within three 
lines, is to me more than a sufficient compensation for 
a large volume of misrepresentations and calumnies. 
Referring to my speeches at the Luxembourg, Mr. Mill 
says : " Nothing could be less inflammatory and pro- 
vocative than his tone, nor more sober and reasonable 
than every suggestion which he propounded for imme- 
diate adoption."* 

The Labour Parliament was formed in the way 
I had proposed ; that is, by the popular election, in 
every craft, of three delegates called upon to represent, 
at the Luxembourg, the whole body of the workmen 
belonging to that craft. So, a powerful engine was put 
at the disposal of the Government Labour Commis- 
sion, and the people of Paris were enabled to act as a 
single man, through the agency of a permanent meeting 
composed of their most clever and influential leaders. 
As to the " Government Labour Commission," the 

* " Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review " for April 1849. 


most competent men of every shade of opinion were 
invited to contribute their opinions and their criticisms. 
Amongst our fellow-labourers, we had MM. Charles 
Duveyrier, Cazeaux, Victor Considerant, and Jean 
Reynaud, all of them eminent representations of the 
various forms of social science, M. Wolowski represent- 
ing the Political Economy in vogue. If some distin- 
guished thinkers were absent from amongst us, it was 
either because they happened not to be then in Paris, 
as M. Pierre Leroux; or because they declined to join, 
as M. Emile de Girardin ; or because their ideas found 
their way to us through other persons present, as those 
of M. Enfantin through MM. Duveyrier and Cazeaux. 

I must not omit that I was most powerfully assisted 
by M. Vidal, Secretary- General of the " Government 
Labour Commission," and by M. Pecqueur, both men of 
high merit, of vast knowledge, and deeply versed in 
matters of political economy. 

After a thorough discussion of the general principles 
by the members of the commission, the two gentlemen 
last- mentioned and myself framed a plan for the 
establishment of agricultural colonies on the co-opera- 
tive principles ; of certain institutions of credit on a 
large scale, calculated to give facilities to commercial 
transactions ; of a national insurance office comprising 
every variety of insurance, and of a national central 
bank, with branches throughout France, — all this con- 
stituting a group of measures intended for immediate 

The nature and the limits of this book preclude me 
from entering into the details of a plan so compre- 


hensive, exposed, of course, to so many objections, and 
requiring a lengthy explanation. I must content 
myself with referring any one desirous of fuller informa- 
tion to a report drawn up with great clearness and 
precision by the Secretary-General, M. Vidal, — a report 
published in several numbers of the Moniteur, and 
afterwards in a collective form, in a book entitled 
" La Revolution de Fevrier au Luxembourg, 1S49." 

The opening of the Labour Parliament took place 
on the 10 th of March, and I delivered, on this occasion, 
a speech of which I think it not unnecessary to give 
some extracts. I began as follows : — 

" Seeing you assembled in this hall, which has been 
hitherto the sanctuary of privilege, in which so many 
laws have been made without you, in spite of you, and 
against you, I feel an emotion which I can with diffi- 
culty repress. On these same seats, once glittering 
with embroidered coats, what do I now see? Garments 
threadbare with honourable toil, some perhaps bearing 
the marks of recent conflict. You will remember it 
was from the very place where I am speaking, that a 
tribune of the aristocracy, not long since, evoked against 
the mere idea of a Republic all the darkest recollections 
of the past ; that at his voice the peers of France rose 
to their feet in an indescribable transport of delight, 
and that grey-haired legislators gave way to a display 
of passion which time it might have been thought had 
for ever benumbed. Here, too, the Republic of our 
fathers was cursed; here the Republic was expressly 
prohibited to our children, and hand after hand was 
raised to swear hatred against the future. 


" But a few clays passed away ; and where is now the 
accuser? Where, at this moment, are they who heard 
him ? No one knows. But what we do know is, that 
where they sat, you sit, representatives of labour. So 
replies the future. 

" Of the republicans it was said they were factious 
men, impossible men, mere dreamers ; and it turns 
out — thanks to the victory of the people and their 
courage — that those who were called factious are now 
charged with the responsibility of preserving order, 
that those who were called dreamers have now upon 
their hands the task of remodelling society, and that 
the impossible men have, all at once, become the indis- 
pensable men. They were denounced as the carefully- 
drilled apostles of terror ; but when a Revolution lifted 
them to power, what did they do ? They abolished 
capital punishment, and their dearest hope is to be soon 
able to lead you to some vast public square, and there, 
amid the pomp of a great national festival, to ask you to 
sweep away every remaining vestige of the scaffold." 

After some further remarks, in which I did but 
justice to the calmness and heroic self-restraint they 
had displayed, I went on to say : 

" The questions we have to resolve unhappily are not 
easy of solution. If we touch but one single abuse we 
menace them all. So completely has the chain of evil 
intertwined itself with society through all its parts, that 
it is impossible to shake a single link without causing 
a general vibration. This is the difficulty of the 
position, and not a slight one . . . 

" How injurious, for instance, would be any attempt 


at restricting the use of machinery, connected as.jt is 
with the progress of the industrial world ! Still, you 
are well aware of the cruel and immoral competition 
which machinery has often maintained against human 
labour, and how often, in the hands of some one em- 
ployer, it has enabled him to empty the workshop of 
those whose bread depends upon their work. Never- 
theless, the use of machinery is a great progress. 
Whence then this inauspicious anomaly ? It springs 
from the fact that, in the midst of the industrial 
anarchy now prevailing, and by consequence of the 
division of interests, everything is inevitably trans- 
formed into an element of contest. Subsitute asso- 
ciation for conflict, and, from that moment, machinery 
becomes an immense boon, because it then works to 
the profit of all, and supplements work without sup- 
pressing the workman. 

"The questions, therefore, that engage us require 
to be investigated as a whole. What we have to 
look for now, to-morrow, the day after, is the endea- 
vour to make association possible, and to establish an 
intimate union of interests between all classes of 
society. Why should we not strive to transfer to 
things that are good that connexion of mutual de- 
pendency which certainly exists in things that are evil ? 
Society, in this, is like the human frame, in which one 
leg being defective, the action of the other must be 
impeded. An invisible, but real and fatal tie binds 
the oppressor to the misery of the oppressed. Sooner or 
later the moment must come when this reciprocal respon- 
sibility will give rise to the most terrible retribution 


. . . So, to plead the cause of the poor is, it cannot 
be too often repeated, to plead the cause of the rich. 
Hence, we are the men of no faction ; it is as a whole 
that we love our country, that we are devoted to it, and 
are resolved to serve it, irrespective of any distinction 
arising from party- spirit. 

" Under the influence of these feelings was the 
Government Labour Commission constituted. We 
thought the time had come when men bold enough to 
dictate to their fellow-men, must find their justification 
in the fact of being useful ; we thought that, hence- 
forth, power should act upon this definition: Governing 
is self-devotion. . . 

" Now, how august will be an assembly which has 
to deliberate upon the most important interests that 
can move the hearts and minds of men ! For that 
which must occupy it will be no less a matter than the 
abolition of slavery : the slavery of poverty, of igno- 
rance, of evil; the slavery of the working man, who 
has no refuge for his aged father ; of the poor man's 
daughter, who, at sixteen, is compelled to get her bread 
by infamy; of the poor man's child who, at ten, is 
buried alive in the pestilential atmosphere of a factory. 
Is all this so inevitable to the nature of things, as to 
make it a folly to believe that it can be one day 
changed? Who will dare to affirm it, and to utter 
such a blasphemy against progress ? If society requires 
mending, mend it. Abolish slavery. 

u But, mark, nothing is more difficult than the settle- 
ment of such high questions. Precipitation would be 
fatal; and to arrive at a happy solution of problems 


so great as these it is necessary, not only to combine 
every possible effort with every amount and variety of 
information, but, moreover, to supplement them with 
the most sincere good will ... In the first Revo- 
lution our fathers were great, even to heroism. On 
them fell all the bitterness of the work which we have 
only to follow up by means of inquiry and science. 
We will not, depend upon it, fail either in tenacity or 
patience ; by God's good help and the people's, we will 
go at your head, deterred by no difficulties, fatigued by 
no resistance, utterly fearless of the enemies of our 
commonwealth. With such confidence in the triumph 
of a resolute conviction, with such trust in justice as 
to feel assured that her reign will one day inevitably 
come, we must succeed in placing on a firm, un- 
shakeable basis our great and beloved Republic." 

At this point of the proceedings, being summoned to 
attend the meeting of the council, I concluded abruptly, 
saying: "I must leave you now; but to meet again, 
that is the first moment any grave problem has to be 
solved, any patriotic act to be accomplished. Here 
be our rendezvous ! " 

" Then," states the Moniteur, " all the assembly rose, 
some of the workmen being so overpowered by their 
emotion as to shed tears." 

I must also mention, in order to bring out into full 
relief the good feeling of the Parisian workmen, that 
my language, although intended as a check upon their 
too forward impatience, was, in the very words of the 
Moniteur, "listened to with the deepest silence, only 
broken by repeated bursts of applause." 


Aii Englishman may be struck, at first, by the warm 
colouring of this speech, so different from the more 
sober tints of English elocution ; but the reader must 
remember that I was addressing a French popular 
audience, and not suffer himself to be diverted from 
attending to the sobriety of the matter and the constant 
appeal to the good sense, moderation, and self-control 
of the hearers. 

Some may think that I am too sanguine in sup- 
posing the day will come when ; by better arangements, 
the present partial distribution of social advantages 
may be modified and expanded, to the signal benefit 
of the whole community. But that was not the question 
then; the question was to prevent the suffering 
classes from giving way to a movement of hostility 
against the more fortunate ones; and this was the 
import of these words, " to plead the cause of the poor, 
is to plead the cause of the rich," showing that progress 
must be effected, not by the antagonism, but by the 
concord, of classes. Now, what could be more creditable 
to the working men of Paris and more strikingly 
indicative of their feelings, than that such language 
should have been so enthusiastically received by them, 
at a moment when they were starving and exasperated 
at what they believed to be the abuse of capital ! 

As I say this, I feel it all but impossible not to do 
the delegates of the Luxembourg the justice of conveying 
to the reader a clear apprehension of what they really 

First, it must be borne in mind that their services 
were perfectly gratuitous. Neither from any special 


subscription, nor from myself, who had not a farthing of 
public money or any funds whatever at my disposal, did 
they receive compensation for their loss of time. More 
than that, they could not accept and perform the duty 
of advocating the general cause of their fellow- workmen, 
without incurring the underhand persecution of the least 
liberal of the employers, the consequence of which was, 
that most of them were, under one pretext or another, 
either discharged, or exceedingly hampered in their 
attempts to obtain employment. Hence, many of them, 
some with families, were subjected to the severest priva- 
tious. Yet, no murmur, no complaint, no evidence of 
being disheartened, no symptom of a desire to retreat 
from their onerous position, ever betrayed in them any 
wavering in their cause, or any disposition to relax in 
their efforts to uphold the interests of their comrades, 
whatever might be the amount of self-sacrifice re- 

No less remarkable was their personal attachment to 
such men as Albert and myself, who were utterly 
destitute of all means of giving them immediate relief, 
and whose seemingly unwelcome task it was to prescribe 
to them that most difficult of all virtues under the cir- 
cumstances — patience. 

Here is an illustration of this attachment, which was 
touching as it was disinterested : — 

Albert and myself used to go on foot, except when 
we were compelled by pressing business to take a car- 
riage, which by the bye, was a hired one, and not at all 
one of those princely vehicles which have so ludicrously 
figured in some calumnious libels in connection with 


our usual means of conveyance. One evening, as we 
made our way to the Hotel of the Minister of the Inte- 
rior through the dark crooked streets that run in the 
neighbourhood of the church of Saint Sulpice, Albert 
perceived that we were tracked by an armed man who 
seemed anxiously to watch all our movements. To 
ascertain the fact, we changed our direction in various 
ways ; but the man would not lose sight of us. At last, 
thinking he had some sinister intention, we turned 
round abruptly, and went straight up to him. To the 
question what he was about, he at first replied nothing, 
looked very much confused, and then made evasive 
answers, calculated to confirm our suspicions. At length, 
on being pressed with questions, he held out to us a 
card which showed he was one of the delegates of the 
Luxembourg, adding : " I am on duty to-night." What 
he meant we were at a loss to comprehend, when he 
proceeded to say, that his comrades, fearful lest we 
might be in danger, while going about unarmed, had 
formed among themselves a sort of voluntary and secret 
body-guard, of the existence of which we were then 
made aware for the first time. So do the people love ! 

I must mention another fact equally illustrative of 
that exquisite delicacy and refinement of feeling for 
which the Parisian workmen are so remarkable. After 
the fatal month of June, but a few days before my 
departure from Paris, I was taking a walk in a lonely 
part of the outer boulevards, when an old female men- 
dicant approached me, asking charity. I examined my 
pocket, and it so happened that, that day, I had gone 
out without money. The old woman, looked wretched 


in the extreme, insisted in the most lamentable way, 
and my annoyance at having nothing to give her pro- 
bably became visible in my countenance, for at this 
moment, a man in a blouse ran up to me, and with an 
embarrassment of manner and in a tone of voice so 
exceedingly affecting that the sole remembrance of 
it brings tears to my eyes, he said: "Citizen, I was 
one of the delegates of the Luxembourg. I cannot 
bear the idea of a suffering person begging your 
assistance in vain. Pray, do me the favour to accept 
this, so that the poor woman may bless you." And he 
respectfully offered me a few pence out of his hard 
earned wages. What I experienced, words can scarcely 
express. I squeezed his hand, held out to me, and I 
felt that I had nothing to regret in all the miseries I had 
drawn upon myself, in defending the cause of such men. 

On the fifth of March, the Government Labour 
Commission having met, I reminded it that our 
business was, not only to prepare laws bearing upon 
the labour-question, for the approval of the National 
Assembly, but also to take measures to effect such 
improvements as the most urgent exigencies of the 
moment required. 

Accordingly, I submitted a proposition, capable, I 
thought, of producing much good without endangering 
any interest. It had been suggested that in each of the 
four most populous districts of Paris, a model lodging- 
house should be formed large enough to lodge about 
four hundred families of working men, with a separate 
apartment for each family ; so as to secure to each of 
them, by means of a consumption on a great scale, the 


advantage of a considerable saving in rent, fuel, food 
lighting, &c., a saving which would be equivalent to an 
increase of wages, without interfering with employers. 
It was also proposed to annex to it a reading-room, a 
room for children at nurse, a school, court, garden, and 

According to the estimates presented to me by two 
distinguished architects, Messrs. Nott and Daly, the cost 
of each establishment would have been about a million 
of francs. To meet this expense, the government was 
to open a loan. It was part of the scheme, that the 
generous assistance of women should be made use of 
to procure subscriptions, and that all ranks of society 
should be called upon to furnish zealous agents for 
carrying out a financial negociation so entirely novel. 

As to the scheme itself, similar establishments, 
I remarked, had been long in existence in various 
countries ; so that we proposed nothing impracticable. 

Still, the idea was open to objections. 

For instance, from the very fact of these establish- 
ments offering such great advantages, it was argued 
that the number of demands for admission would be 
too numerous to be satisfied. To meet this objection, 
various expedients might be suggested. First, it was 
proposed as an indispensable condition that none but 
lawfully married men should be admitted, bachelors 
being declared ineligible. Secondly, the preference 
was to be given to working men with the largest 
families, or, in case of two families equally large, to 
that in which the children were the youngest. 

The question having been examined in all its bearings 


by MM. Vidal, Dupoty, Dussard, Duveyrier, and Malar- 
met, the last a worker in bronze, of high intelligence, 
and thoroughly acquainted with the subject, I under- 
took, in conclusion, to draw up a bill embodying the 
views and opinions that had been approved by the 
meeting, and to submit it to the deliberation of the Pro- 
visional Government. 

This plan, which I felt, and still feel, would have been 
in the highest degree beneficial to the working classes 
of Paris, might have been immediately put in execution, 
had the public department for labour I asked for been 
instituted. Unfortunately, as the matter stood, all I 
could do was to suggest, and, from the rapid succession 
of events, the tide having turned, the suggestion, 
with many others of a practical nature, fell to the 

I particularly notice this, because the impression has 
been diligently spread in England that, having every 
command of means, I failed in carrying out my views 
owing to their impracticability, combined with my 
administrative deficiency. For instance, a lively writer, 
Mr. Saint John, speaking of me amongst others, in his 
"Louis Napoleon," etc., says, " . . . But, upon 
the establishment of the Republic, having been elevated 
into an official situation, his remarkable abilities as a 
writer only served to bring out into stronger relief his 
deficiency in administrative talent." * Another 
author observes it was made too convincingly evident 
in 1848 that my administrative capacity, even in the 

* " Louis Napoleon : a Biography." By Augustus Saint- John. p. 268. 


execution, with ample means, of my own projects, was 
of no very high order.* 

How singular that I should have been taunted with 
inefficiently administering, where there was nothing to 
administer ! How strange that authors who pretend to 
be well informed should have ventured to speak of the 
ample means I had at my disposal, when the fact of my 
having been placed at the Luxembourg without funds 
or any other administrative resources, is so notorious 
and so absolutely undeniable ! 

I will say more. 

It may be remembered that, when at the Hotel de 
Ville, I was offered the presidency of a Government 
Labour Commission, in place of a "public depart- 
ment of labour,'-' I expressly declined to accept a 
position in which the responsibility to be incurred 
would be immense, and the means of discharging it 
nil ; it may be also remembered that, if I at last con- 
sented to confront it, it was Only in order to pre- 
vent civil war, and in compliance with the earnest 
entreaties of M. Arago.f Well, this was nothing less 
than a conspiracy concocted against me, not by M. 
Arago, who was made, I am sure, the unconscious in- 
strument of it, but by some other of my colleagues j 
and what I, at that time suspected, turned out to be 
the case. My most decided opponent in the Council 
was the Minister of Public Works. Now, here are, as 
revealed by himself to M. Emile Thomas, his confidant, 

e " Napoleon the Third. Review of his Life, Character, and Policy, &c." 
By a British Officer, p. 141. 1857. 

t See chapter IXth, The "Droit au Travail:' 


the secret motives which induced him to insist upon my 
being placed at the head of a " Government Labour 
Commission/' destitute of all administrative resources. 

" M. Marie told me " (these are the words of 
M. Emile Thomas, whose statement has never been 
contradicted), "that it was the determined intention 
of the Government to allow that experiment (of the 
Luxembourg) to have its run ; that in itself it would 
have the good result of convincing the workmen of the 
emptiness of Louis Blanc's inapplicable theories J1 (they 
had begun, mark it well, by depriving me of the means 
of application) : " that, in this manner, the working 
classes would be disabused by experience ; that their 
idolatry of Louis Blanc would of itself crumble to 
pieces, and that he would lose for ever all his influence, 
all his prestige, and cease to be a danger." * 

It is true that, as far as my popularity was con- 
cerned, these respectable anticipations were frustrated. 
Not only did the confidence of the delegates of the jij 
Luxembourg in me remain unshaken, but it assumed 
a particular character of generosity amounting to 
grandeur. With that instinct which baulks the petty 
manoeuvres of the would-be-adepts in politics, the 
people had recognised their own. 

After all, intentionally beggared as I was of all efficient 
powers, I contrived to extract from my unpromising 
position practical results of value, the most important o: 
which was the energetic impulse given to the establish 
inent of the self-supporting co-operative societies. But 
this result, on account of its great importance, require 

* Histoire des AtCUers Nationaax, par M. Emile Thomas, p. 47. 



to be treated of in a separate chapter. The others I 
shall notice here briefly. 

A pressing evil was the difficulty for men ou ^pf jt work 
to discover without delay the employers who stood in 
need of^hands^' In order to bring the supply and the 
demand within the reach of each other as instantaneously 
as possible, I obtained the sanction of the Provisional 
Government to a decree establishing, at the cost of the 
State, a "Labour Registration Office " in every muni- 
cipal district of Paris, where the requisite information 
could be had gratuitously. 

Another cause of mischief, bitterly complained of, ^ 
was the ruinous competition the operatives had to sus- 
tain against the low-priced produce of criminals, fed, in 
prisons, at the expense of the State. The " Govern- 
ment Labour Commission " urged that prison labour 
should be suspended, and that the contractors should 
receive from the State such an indemnification as might 
be, either amicably settled, or else fixed by a court of law, 
after valuations given in by competent judges. This 
provision, applying also to the work executed in \ 
barracks, was made the object of a decree to which all | 
the members of the Provisional Government affixed 
their signatures." 

Besides this, in a great number of conventual establish- 
ments, women, well cared for, were enabled to undersell 
and forestall a mass of poor houseless creatures, either 
employed upon starvation wages, or actually perishing 
for want of employment. I caused a decree to be issued, 
enacting that, henceforth, no work would be allowed in 


* Moniteur of the 25th of March, 1848. 

l 2 


religious communities, except under regulations so 
adjusted as to prevent any unfair competition.* 

It would carry me too far to enumerate all the 
measures that were taken by the " Government Labour 
Commission " to meet the exigencies of the moment ; 
but I caunot pass over in silence a document which 
shows that, while bent on alleviating as much as in our 
power lay the sufferings of the people, nothing could 
induce us to go, even for this purpose, beyond what we 
considered to be just. 

The English public has learnt through a profusion of 
bitter reports, bitterly commented upon, and from Lord 
Normanby,t that, after the Revolution of 1843, a cry 
was got up in France against the foreign working men, 
whose competition, in fact, had become extremely in- 
jurious to a not inconsiderable number of natives. It is 
my painful duty to acknowledge the fact. But, in con- 
nection with it, there are important circumstances 
which Lord Normanby has carelessly withheld from the 
English people, and which, for this very reason, I am 
bound to relate. 

As soon as I was apprised, at the Luxembourg, of I 
the agitation that pervaded the working classes, I 
resolved to resist it instantly. Nor did the attempt; 
require much courage on my part ; for I knew enough 
of the character of the people of Paris, to feel assured; 
beforehand that any lofty appeal to their sense of honour 
would produce a decisive effect. I, therefore, drew upj 
the following declaration, which was signed by all my 

* Monileur of the 25th of March, 1848. 

t A Year of Revolution in Paris, vol. i. p. 178. 


colleagues of the Provisional Government, and appeared 
in the Moniteur of the 9th of April, 1848 : 

" In conformity with the proposal of the ' Govern- 
ment Labour Commission/ 

" Considering : 

" That Fraternity is the principle which the Republic 
proclaimed on the morrow of its victory ; 

" That the recent battle was fought in the name, and 
Avon for the sake, of humankind ; 

" That all countries, however dissimilar, ought, in 
the person of a foreigner, to protect and respect man > 

" That France must be true to her own genius, and 
accomplish her duty, by rendering her triumphs, nay 
her sufferings, beneficial to other nations ; 

" That, if she feeds, at this moment, a great number 
of foreigners, a number far greater still of Frenchmen 
live by their labour in England, in Germany, in Switzer- 
land, in America, and on the most distant shores ; 

"That to drive back our alien brothers would be to 
call forth retaliatory measures — a retribution no less 
calamitous than humiliating; 

^^"The Provisional Government place foreign labourers 
under the special protection and safe- guard of French 
operatives, their fellow-men, and, full of confidence in 
the generosity of the people, make them responsible 
„ for the honour of the country/'* 

Our expectations were not disappointed ; the agitation 
subsided, as if by magic, and there was an end of the 

The truth is that, to influence those really noble 

* See the Moniteur of the 9th of April, 1848. 



men, the surest way was to address their feelings. 
Nor was even this in most cases necessary. To their 
genuine disposition to follow the lead of any elevated 
idea springing up spontaneously from among them- 
selves, I might adduce numerous testimonies. Suffice 
it to say, that those employed, reduced as they were 
to the utmost straits, volunteered to contribute, out of 
their low wages, and did actually contribute, a compara- 
tively large sum of money to be spent by the Provisional 
Government in procuring work for those unemployed.* 

But still more praiseworthy was the moderation of 
their demands and language, at a time they were 
all-powerful. Let the reader who remembers the cir- 
cumstances pay attention to the following declaration 
which was addressed by a set of workmen to the 
" Government Labour Commission," and posted on all 
the walls of Paris : — 

" We, whose names are under-written, do declare 
that we are satisfied with the decree issued by the 
Provisional Government for the shortening of the hours 
of labour from eleven to ten, and that we hold it to be 
unjust to bring forward any further demand that might 
lead to the ruin of our employers, and to a stoppage. 
We adjure our brethren to exact nothing beyond what 
is reasonable and just ; we adjure them to guard against 
any counsel arising from a factious disposition/^ 

It was this amount of moderation and good sense in 

* The example was set by the mechanics employed in the workshops of 
M. Henry Lecleic. See the Moniteur of the 11th of March, 1848. 

*f* See this declaration, with the signatures appended to it, in the 
Moniteur of the 11th of March, 1848. 


the working classes that made it possible for the 
"Government Labour Commission" effectually to in- 
terfere as arbitrator between operatives and masters* 
whenever the necessity arose either of preventing or 
adjusting a dispute — which, it must be remarked, was 
never done, except at the united request of both parties. 
. Need I observe that, sober as the popular feeling 
may have been upon the whole, it was not to be expected 
that the tempest of February should pass away, without 
any stirring up of interests and passions ? The legiti- 
mate hopes awakened in many hearts broke out here 
and there into complaints,— sometimes into protests. 
Whenever the social arrangements were so oppressive 
as to be insufferable, the oppressed could not always 
abstain from attempting to shake off the yoke at once. 
But it so happened, that, had some of the demands that 
were made been fully admitted, the result would have 
proved fatal to the complainants themselves ; whilst, on 
the other hand, men were found, in the moneyed class, 
who, clinging to obvious abuses, and regardless of the 
danger, would not give way, even when circumstances 
allowed them to be just. Now, any one who looks back 
to the glorious but stormy days of the Revolution of 
February, will easily conceive what disturbances would 
have taken place, had not public confidence invested 
some high tribunal with the power of removing all causes 
of conflict by means of friendly arbitration. Well, 
owing to the very nature of things, the Government 
Labour Commission became the tribunal required; and 
the services which the Luxembourg rendered, in this 
capacity, may be said to have been invaluable. 


^s*~ Many a disastrous stoppage was brought to a close, 
as in the case of the factory of Derosne et Caille; 
numberless disputes were settled, to the satisfaction of 
both contending parties — namely, those between the 
pavement-contractors and the paviours — the paper- 
makers and their workmen — the lightermen -and the 
wood merchants — the coach-masters and the coach- 
men — the blacksmiths and the journeymen-smiths — 
the stone contractors and the stone-cutters, &c. &c* 

There was no, for instance, compulsory power by 
which the paviours could have been made to replace 
the paving-stones, dug up during the struggle to form 
barricades; but to the conciliatory decision of the 
Luxembourg they did not hesitate to submit. For a 
moment, vehicles of all kinds ceased to roll in Paris ; 
but no sooner had the Luxembourg interfered, than the 
coachmen readily consented to resume their work, on 
reasonable terms. 

On one of these arbitrations I beg to dwell, inasmuch 
as it saved Paris from an imminent danger. 

Little did the Parisians dream that, on the 29th 
of March, 1848, they were within an ace of being left 
without a supply of bread. Yet, such was the case. 
On the 25th, the following letter was addressed to me 
from the delegates of the syndicate of bakers : — 

u Citizen, — two delegates from the syndicate of Paris 
are commissioned to communicate to you that there 
are very serious apprehensions entertained respecting 
the course that will be taken by the journeyman bakers 
this evening. They beg to inform you they had yes- 

* See the Appendix, No. 2. 


terday two interviews with the prefect of police, and 
that they will have another with him to-day, at half- 
past one. Perhaps yon will have the kindness to be 
present. It is so important yon should be, that we ask 
your attention to this communication, in the name of 
the tranquillity of the city of Paris. — Part.Ch. Pecourt." 

The Monti eur of the 28th of March alluding to this 
letter, says : 

"The official intervention of the Government Labour 
Commission has to-day been again solicited, and under 
very peculiar circumstances. The subject was the state 
of the bakehouses of Paris, in which the slightest 
disturbance might have seriously endangered the sub- 
sistence of the capital. Among the working classes, 
there is no set of men whose position demands a more 
immediate improvement than that of the journeymen 
bakers. The oppressive arrangements to which they 
had been obliged to submit, having, at last, inclined 
them to violent measures, Paris might have suffered 
from a total failure of the supply of bread, had not a 
complete and satisfactory compromise been effected 
through the intervention of the Luxembourg. 

"The delegates from the employers and the journey- 
men bakers have, this day, submitted their differences 
to the president and vice-president of the Govern- 
ment Labour Commission, and after a short, friendly 
discussion, a new scale of wages having been proposed, 
met with the warm acceptance of both parties. Mean- 
time, a great crowd of journeymen bakers overflowed 
the court of the palace, awaiting the issue of the 
appeal with impatience and agitation- On M. Louis 


Blanc's appearing and reading the decision, the most 
enthusiastic acclamations were uttered ; and the sincere 
expressions of gratitude both from the delegates of the 
employers and those of the workmen amply recom- 
pensed the Commission for the anxiety it had under- 
gone. Before they parted, a workman, sent by his 
comrades, rushed up to M. Louis Blanc, and warmly 
shaking his hand, offered, in their name, a contribution 
of two francs a head, to be deducted from the first day's 
wages of each of them, — the collective amount to be 
placed at the disposal of the Provisional Government. 

" These facts are very significant, especially as they 
do not stand alone. For, without recalling the many 
difficult cases which have been successfully submitted 
to the arbitration of the ' Government Labour Com- 
mission, 1 we may just observe that, as late as yester- 
day, the Commission was able, by well-timed negocia- 
tions with the Railway Company of Lyons, to smoothe 
down the difficulty which threatened to prolong the 
lamentable stoppage of the establishment of Farcot, at 
St. Ouen." * 

Is it not strange that Lord Normanby, with these 
documents under his eyes, as they must have been, 
should have expressed himself in this way ? " There was | 
no flour in the town, and the bakers had ceased to 
distribute bread. Lamartine's timely exertions, there- 
fore, in causing the barricades to be removed, saved us I 
from dangers quite as serious, though of a less osten-j 
sible description than massacre." f 

* Monifeur of the 28th of March, 1848. 

t A Year of Revolution in Paris, vol. i. p. 1 45. 


My statement, resting on official documents, and 
explaining whence the danger of the starvation, why the 
streets were not repaved, and what put an end to these 
difficulties, exhibits in a ludicrous light the historical 
accuracy of Lord Normanby's compliments to M. de 

To form a right notion of the burden M. Albert and 
myself had on our shoulders, the reader should know 
that all the things just mentioned were accomplished, 
with the efficient and zealous assistance of M. Vidal, 
in the short space of two months, during which we 
had, in addition to these duties, to attend every 
Cabinet-Council held at the Hotel de Ville by the 
Provisional Government. I do not remember having 
ever worked, at that period, less than fourteen hours a 
day. Albert, who was made of iron, could stand any 
fatigue : not so with me, and my health was severely 

Such were our crimes. 

And now M. Albert is lingering in a prison; whilst 

I am reduced to write these lines in a foreign land, and 

in a foreign language, because some of these moneyed 

men I protected, have driven me from my country, 

„ bereft me of all I held dear, after showering upon me 

t all manner of calumnies, and, as will be seen hereafter, 

, twice attempting to murder me in broad day-light. 

ffl |But let that pass. No soldier is allowed to complain 

„, of being wounded in battle ; and what were we doing, 

if not fighting for the sake of justice? 




In the subsequent chapter, I shall call attention to 
the establishment of those famous National Workshops, 
which, through a really inconceivable misimpression, 
all Europe has been induced to attribute to me, 
although, as will hereafter be proved, they were 
founded and organised, not by me, but against me, or, 
more properly to speak, against that social science of 
which circumstances made me the official exponent. 

In the present chapter, I propose to give an account 
of a very different kind of establishments; I mean, 
those co-operative associations, which were so rich in 
practical and permanent results. This subject will be 
found novel, and, I am confident, highly interesting; 
for it illustrates an effort at realising a new principle, 
which, to use the language of the Countess d'Agoult, 
in her remarkable history of the Revolution of 1848 
was, in this our age, " the starting point of a system oi 
organisation of the working classes, not less important 
to them than was the formation of burghs to thi 
trading classes of the middle ages." * 

* Jlistoire tie la Revolution de 1848, par Daniel Stern, Vol. ii., ch. 8 



I have already said that, in my opinion, the State 
should take the initiative in setting up co-operative 
associations ; and this would have been easy enough to 
effect, had the Provisional Government consented to 
create for such a purpose a public department, with 
funds, administrative machinery, and so forth. My 
earnest negotiations at the Hotel de Ville to this 
effect, the great lengths the workmen were prepared to 
go in support of my demand, the objections raised by 
my colleagues, and the motives of public safety which 
led me reluctantly to give way, are within the know- 
ledge of the reader.* 

So far, I found myself paralysed. Fortunately, two 
circ umstances i oc cu^r^d, whir.h gave me a hope of 
being able, despite this deprivation of means, to do 
something towards partially putting the co-operative 
system into a practical form. 

I/In the first place, the Provisional Government had 
passed a decree incorporating citizens of every class 
into the National Guard, and providing that uniforms 
should be furnished at the public expense to all persons 

_ too poor to buy them for themselves, f 

Jy In the second place, the Government, while acknow- 
ledging that the rights of creditors should be protected 
by law, were nevertheless of opinion that the nature of 
the protection should not be revolting to reason and 
humanity; and that, fraud of all kinds being within 

Daniel Stern is the pseudonym of Madame la Comtesse d'Agoult, and I 
quote her all the more willingly, as her views, although liberal, differ from 
my own in more than one respect. 

* Chapter v. pp. 89—93. 

t See the Moniteur of the 16th of March, 1848. 


the reach of the criminal law, it was a gratuitous out- 
rage to human dignity to treat the personal liberty of 
a citizen as a proper equivalent for a pecuniary debt. 
Accordingly, they had abolished imprisonment for 
debt ; * and the consequence was, that the Prison de 
; Clichyy which had hitherto been the debtor's prison, 
was now vacated. f 

These two circumstances suggested to me the idea 
that the order for the uniforms of the National Guard 
might be intrusted to a co-operative association of 
tailors, and that the Prison de Clicky might be handed 
over to them for their use. 

About this time, I was told that there was among 
the delegates of the tailors at the Luxembourg, a man 
possessed of rare and commanding qualities, and who 
stood very high in the estimation of his comrades. I 
requested him to wait upon me, which he did most 
readily ; nor have I forgotten how strongly the first 
glance I had of him, as he entered, prepossessed me in 
his favour. He was a middle-aged man, of ordinary 
size, with a slender figure, pallid hollow cheeks, and a 
smooth marble forehead, scantily shaded by thin light 
hair — all which conveyed the impression of a man who 
had suffered much and was not likely to live long. But 
the signal repose of his countenance, and the benignant 
expression of his sunken blue eyes, showed that he had 
borne the brunt of life's troubles with unconquered 
serenity. His name was Berard. 

i( My object/' said I, " in sending for you, was to ask 

* See the Monitewr of the 16th of March, 1848. 
+ See the Monileur of the 10th of March, 1848. 


your opinion about the practicability of forming a co- 
operative society in your trade." 

" Before I answer the question," he replied, " allow 
me to ask, in my turn, if I am to infer that the Pro- 
visional Government is willing to appropriate money for 
this purpose ? " 

"No. This was precisely what I wanted the Provi- 
sional Government to do, when I pressed for the 
formation of a ( public department of labour and pro- 
gress j ' but you are aware that my demand was 

" Yes, I know it ; and my fellow- workmen know it, 
too." Here, a bitter smile curled his lips, and he 
stopped, as though he strove to suppress a rising 


" Well, I cannot conceal from you that the workmen 
of Paris felt painfully surprised at your not maintaining 
your ground, when, sure, they would have supported you 
to the death." 

"The time," I replied, "is not yet come for the just 
appreciation of my motives, but it is not far off. — Now, 
to the point. Is a co-operative association in your trade 
possible, without the aid of the State ? " 

After a moment's hesitation, " The great difficulty," 
5 1 lie said, " in founding co-operative associations, is the 
acquisition of such implements of labour as are 
required, and the outlay which the purchase of raw 
( material necessitates. There are in Paris, at present, 
nearly two thousand men belonging to my trade, who, 
I have no doubt, would be quite ready to form among 


themselves such an association ; but how could they be 
expected to raise out of their savings the amount of 
money requisite, almost all of them being unemployed, 
on account of the commercial crisis, and in a state of 
utter destitution ? " 

On my inquiring whether this were the only diffi- 
culty, " There is another/' he observed, "which must 
not be lost sight of, in all trades like my own. Mind, 
Sir, that there are merchants who are constantly on 
the look-out for ruin and bankruptcies, and who profit 
by the misfortunes of their fellow-tradesmen, to obtain 
at fabulous prices goods sold afterwards below the 
market price, with an enormous profit. Could fraternal 
associations of workmen tread in the foot-marks of such 
people, without being untrue to their own principle ? 
Could they speculate on slackness of labour and upon 
misery? Again, how difficult it would be for a co-ope- 
rative association of workmen, prompted by a desire of 
contributing to the affranchisement of labour, to stand 
out the competition of those slop-shops which emplo 
women to do the sewing, to whom they are not ashame 
to give the miserable pittance of fifteen sous for a waist 
coat, knowing very well that it takes them two days tc 
make one ? Ah ! Citizen, I would rather die of hunger 
than march towards fortune through such wrong ways 
and this is a general feeling amongst us, for we knov 
that a woman, to live in a becoming manner, must hav< 
at least one franc and a half a day ; and we consider i 
to be a most cruel evil, that poor young girls shoul 
be compelled to sit up long nights, to the destructioj 
of their health, without reaping any fruit from a 

journeymen-tailors' association. 161 

exhausting toil, or, perhaps, should be dragged down 
through suffering to prostitution." 

While thus speaking, the honest workman had 
gradually grown excited ; his cheeks were no longer 
bloodless, and the involuntary emotion of his heart 
glowed in the liquid lustre of his eyes. 

I resumed : " Suppose you were to be found in raw 
material and premises ? " 

" Oh," replied he, cheerfully, " this would be a some- 
what different case, especially if we could obtain good 
terms. There is now in Paris, as I already told you, a 
great number of journeymen tailors almost starving : 
they would be too happy to join ; and, for my part, I 
should feel still happier in assisting to carry out a 
principle which I believe to be necessary and just." 

" But," I remarked, " I have been told that you are 
a first-rate workman, in the habit of receiving high 
wages. This will be bad work for you." 

" Oh, don't mention it. I have had tougher jobs 
than this." 

In consequence of this interview, a co-operative 
association of journeymen tailors having been formed, 
at the head of which Berard and his two fellow-dele- 
gates were placed, I procured for them from the city of 
Paris an order for a hundred thousand military frocks 

now intended for the National Guard, and also the use of 

lianhe Prison de Clichy.* 

L der i* There, about two thousand journeymen tailors, then 

ilioPDut of employment, were installed and set at work 

uctiou mmediately. 

,A Si 

* See the Moniteur of the 17tli of March, 1848. 


This co-operative association was founded upon the 
principles I had eight years before propounded in my 
book entitled u Organisation of Labour." * The asso- 
ciates showed themselves, from the beginning, impressed 
with the idea that it was their duty to contribute as 
much as possible to the gradual emancipation of the 
working classes, by giving their fellow-men a practical 
proof of the advantages of the coroperative system, 
when carried out as a work of mutual responsibility f 
and devotedness. The conditions of admission into 
their family were : first, the possibility of employing 
additional hands ; secondly, on the part of the candi- 
date, a character for good conduct, good will, and a 
proper knowledge of the business. They recognised 
amongst themselves no other authority than that of the 
whole, represented by elective managers and foremen 
— real public servants, sure to be, in this capacity, 
loved, respected, and obeyed. Being thoroughly con* 
vinced that the weak, in an association of Christians,] 
ought never to be sacrificed to the strong; that a: 
unequal partition of the fruits of their collectiv< 
labour would, in all probability, foster in those besi 
remunerated a feeling of selfishness, and awaken in thi 
others a feeling of envy, likely to loosen the tie o: 
their fraternal union, and to bring it to a close throug] 
internal discord ; considering, moreover, that men whi 
work togther, in the sight of one another, with a vie' 

* The first edition of this book appeared in 1840 ; the ninth appearej 
in 1850. 

+ I use "mutual responsibility" for our French word " solidarite,j 
which cannot be expressed by any single word in English, and whic 
implies identity of interests combined with identity of feelings. 


to a joint benefit, cannot fail to be spurred on by that 
self-same sense of honour which actuates men who 
fight side by side, with a view to a common victory — 
this being once admitted, that it is no less shameful for 
operatives to shrink from the assigned task than it is 
for soldiers to fly from the enemy, — the journeymen 
tailors at Clichy adopted the system of equal wages and 
equal profits. Besides, it was agreed that a fund should 
be set apart for the relief of the widows, orphans, or 
invalided associates, and that the profits should be 
divided into two parts — one to be distributed amongst 
the members, and the other to be reserved for the 
gradual accumulation of a permanent capital, or labour 
fund, intended to perpetuate the association, by supply- 
ing it with implements of labour successive generations 
of workmen. 

It is rather surprising, that those who have raised a 
hue and cry against the system of equal wages adopted 
in the establishment of Clichy, and ever since in so 

ill many co-operative associations, should have over- 
looked the fact, that this is precisely the system 
which is carried out in a great number of handicrafts, 
in the army, in the navy, and in every class of 
public functions. Strange enough ! In the French 
Constituent Assembly, whose members had a salary 
of twenty-five francs a day, and where, consequently, 

ie the least clever and efficient amongst them had 
been, in point of remuneration, placed on the same 
footing with first-rate orators and politicians, I have 
heard the system of equal wages criticised by the 
former as wrongful to talent j the critics being utterly 


heedless of the consequences of their logic as applied 
to themselves. 

But the same inconsistencies between objections and 
facts run through the whole of the adverse criticisms. 

Are all soldiers, though serving for the same pay, 
equally brave, active and zealous? Are all judges, 
receiving the same salary, equally learned and intel- 
ligent ? Still, this contribution of unequal work for 
equal pay seems natural to every one. 

True, it may be replied ; but, in these cases, there is 
the stimulus of personal advancement, that is a calcu- 
lation on the contingency of future advantages. 

Granting, for the case of argument, this to be in- 
variably the fact, which it is not, the same stimulus, 
in another form, will be found powerfully operating 
amongst the members of an industrial association, 
where every member has an increased share in the 
increase of the general profits. In point of fact, the 
stimulus of personal interest is here all the stronger 
from the reward being more certain, more immediate, 
and from every one knowing that he cannot possibly 
work for the benefit of others, without receiving a fail 
share of the benefit for himself. But this certainty o: 
being recompensed for his exertions, is precisely what 
is absent in the case of the soldier. How shadowy his 
hope of advancement ! How dependent on opportu 
nity ! How susceptible of being baffled by circum-j 
stances over which he has no kind of control ! How 
subject to the caprice or injustice of superiors ! And 
what is true of the soldier, is true of every class o; 
public officers. 

workingmen's point of honour. 1G5 

Then again, it must be remembered that there is in 
a co-operative society, as in a nation or an army, that 
great moving force which on a large scale is called 
public spirit, and on a small scale esprit de corps. 
Another incentive common to all is the "point of 
honour," or the obligation in each individual to do 
that utmost which cannot be always outwardly mea- 
sured, and the open neglect of which will be visited 
with dishonour. Amongst soldiers, this "point of 
honour" prevents that shirking work, in the act of 
killing, which is stigmatised as cowardice : why, 
amongst associated workmen, should not the " point of 
honour " prevent that shirking work, in the act of 
creating, which might very properly be stigmatised as 
theft ; for theft it is ? 

The system of equal wages, in the case of a co-opera- 
tive association as in the other mentioned cases, is 
certainly amenable to the objection that it gives no 
more to the father of a family than to the bachelor. But 
how much stronger still is the objection against the 
payment by piece-work, in which a poor workman with 

! | four children may be reduced, if weak, to a salary of 

' two or three francs, whilst a robust bachelor will have 

i the double ? 

Besides, never did, either the journeymen tailors at 

i | Clichy, or the workmen who trod afterwards in their 
| foot-steps, adopt the system of equal wages as the best 

I J possible. No. The reason why they submitted to it 

momentarily, was that the existing order of things did 

J not allow the practical realisation of a far superior one, 

i that which is embodied in the maxim : tc From each 


according to his faculties. To each according to his 
wants." The system of equal wages was viewed by 
the workmen in no other light than that of a provisional 
proceeding, which, though imperfect, came nearest to 
the doctrine of fraternity, as it implied, at least, the so 
eminently Christian principle, " He does what he ought, 
who does what he can? 

As to the results, they may be said to have been in 
every respect remarkable. 

I remember having received, at the Luxembourg, a 
visit from Mr. Moffatt, M.P., and Mr. Wilson. These 
gentlemen having expressed a desire to have a letter of 
introduction to the manager of the Clichy association, 
I readily complied with their request ; and I trust they 
have not forgotten the courteous reception they met 
with there, and the impression made upon them, not 
only by the discipline, good order, and active industry of 
the establishment, but also by the gentlemanly air and j 
manners of the workmen who conducted them round. 

Certain it is, that all the engagements the journey- 
men tailors composing the Clichy association had con- 
tracted, were scrupulously fulfilled ; the order they had 
received was completed in due time ; a sum of eleven 
thousand francs they had borrowed from the master- 
tailors, was promptly repaid, and when, the agreement . 
with the city of Paris being at an end, the association 
broke up, to be reconstituted on a smaller scale, far 
from winding up with a loss, they had a balance in 
their favour.* 

* See in the Nouveau Monde a letter addressed by Berard, the chief 
manager of the association, to the Constitntionnel, on the 11th of July, 1849. ' 


And what deserves special notice, is the example they 
set to their brethren, as men and as citizens. Among 
them, the rule was to take into account the good will 
of every individual, however humble and destitute of 
intellectual advantages he might be, and to encourage, 
to guide him, to render to him as easy as possible the 
performance of his task. Among them, there was no 
favouritism. Each man's place was assigned to him by 
election. Every employment carried greater obliga- 
tions with it, and every dignity was a burden ; so that 
one of the most touching and profound maxims of the 
Gospel found there its application, the first among 
them being really the servant of all ! 

A few facts will be enough to give an insight into 
the spirit which pervaded this association. 

One day, a great number of women occupied in 
embroidery presented themselves at Clichy, making an 
offer to work for it at a certain price, comparatively 
high. Immediately after, the men engaged in the same 
trade, not aware of the step taken by the women, came 
and proposed to furnish similar work on lower terms. 
The Clichy association, knowing how injurious to 
morality were the results of extreme poverty and want 
of employment amongst women, did not hesitate for 
a moment to decline the more advantageous of the 
two offers, in order to secure occupation to the weaker 

* See Le Nouveau Monde, Journal historique et politique, for a letter 
signed by fifty '-nine workmen, addressed to the Voix du Peuple, in January, 
1850. The Voix du Peuple was edited by M. Proudhon, and the letter of 
the workmen had reference to some slanderous remarks which had appeared 
in that journal. 


Here is another instance of generous sacrifice. There 
were, at that time, thousands of needlewomen out of 
work, and the various mayors of Paris to whom they 
applied for relief, used to send them to Clichy, where it 
was supposed they would find employment. Nor was 
it ever refused, though many of the applicants were 
so unfit for the work required, that it was sometimes 
necessary to undo what they had done. But the 
members of the association preferred bearing such a 
loss, great as it was, to exposing poor girls to the risk 
of starving, and went even so far as to pay them the 
same wages they themselves received.* 

When the agreement with the city of Paris was 
broken, there was no longer sufficient employment for 
all those who were willing to stand by the co-operative 
principle, and few only of them could find full work. 
Well, these, all skilled workmen, voluntarily submitted 
to hard privations, and thought it their duty to hand 
over to the general fund the whole amount of their 
share of it, in order to enable the association to 
establish on its own premises a kitchen, where food 
was prepared for three hundred of their brethren, at 
the cost per head of six pence a day, during several 

I might give numerous instances of the same sort; 
but this would be to write a history of the associations, 
which is not the object of my book. 

The second association established by the Luxem- 
bourg, was that of the saddlers. 

It will be remembered I prevailed upon the Provi- 

* See note on previous page. t Ibid. 

saddlers' association. 1C9 

sional Government to prohibit all persons fed and 
lodged at the expense of the State by charitable dona- 
tions, from bringing their produce into the market to 
compete with that of the working classes. Following 
up this policy, I caused the orders for saddlery which 
used to be executed at the military establishment of 
Saumur, to be partially transferred to a number of 
saddlers in Paris, who were thus enabled to form a 
co-operative association. 

Of course, I met with some obstruction from military 
quarters, in reference to which I will mention a circum- 
stance not inappropriate, in these days when French 
colonels dictate through the Moniteur proscriptions to 
a great people. 

It so happened that the delegates of the saddlers one 
day came to me, very much excited, saying that General 
Oudinot— the same that afterwards commanded the 
French expedition to Rome — was at that moment 
haranguing a large meeting of workmen, in opposition 
to the transfer alluded to, and requested me to inter- 
fere. I instantly got into a cab with them, and pro- 
ceeded to the place of meeting, which was the salle 
Valentino in the Rue St. Honore. There I found the 
hall crowded to excess, and the General speaking. My 
entrance was hailed by a burst of cheers, which con- 
tinued as I walked up to the platform, and until I 
found myself face to face with General Oudinot. 
Immediately addressing him, I said : " Is it true, 
General, you are here to obstruct the views of the 
Provisional Government ? ; ' Whereupon, with a pro- 
fusion of courtesies, he protested that he was only 


expressing a personal opinion, but that in this as in all 
other things, he was quite disposed to conform to the 
views of the Government. He then retired, amid loud 
demonstrations of satisfaction on the part of the work- 
ing men at his departure, which I at once repressed. 

So was the saddlers association formed. Their 
principle of action was exactly the same as that of 
Clichy, and when I left Paris, in August, 1848, they 
were getting on most prosperously. 

Of the third association established by the Luxem- 
bourg, that of the spinners, the following letter from 
their delegates (December, 1849) will give a sufficient 
notion : — 

"Scarcely are we separated by an interval of two 
years from the Revolution of February, and jet there 
are some persons who seem to have already forgotten 
its history. Surely, the establishment of the co-ope- 
rative societies, in consequence of February, 1848, is a 
fact of some importance in the eyes of the people ! 
Yet are there reactionist journals, as the Constitutionnel, 
for instance, which systematically strive to depreciate 
and to misrepresent them. And why ? We think it 
better not to inquire too closely. As far as our asso- 
ciation is concerned, we shall give the real facts of the 
case. There were three co-operative associations; 
founded by the Luxembourg — those of the tailors,.; 
saddlers, and spinners. The order for the clothing of 
the National Guard gave rise to the spinners asso- 
ciation. Citizen Louis Blanc made several applications) 
to the mayor of Paris to obtain for us an order for a 


hundred thousand pairs of epaulettes. Citizen Marrast, 
then mayor, did not think proper to confide the exe- 
cution of so large an order to persons without a plant 
or capital of any kind, offering, indeed, no other 
security but their honesty. Through Louis Blanc's 
intervention, however, the contract was made, on the 
26th, between the city of Paris and the association, 
which, without the help of this order, would have 
found it impossible to begin business, considering the 
large sum indispensable for setting up spinning 
machinery, and the impossibility at that moment to 
get a market for their produce. Louis Blanc's next 
step was to put us in communication with the dele- 
gates of the gold-lace makers, who had amongst them- 
selves a society en commandite, that is, with limited 
liability, with which we entered into a contract for the 
supply of epaulettes. Thus, owing to the impulse 
given by the Luxembourg, several hundreds of work- 
men were enabled, in the very first days of the 
Revolution, to carry into practice that principle of 
co-operation which is, at present, being so extensively 
developed. Now came a new difficulty. In spite of 
the securities for our solvency provided for by the 
terms of our contract, no trader was willing to trust us 
with raw material on credit, and no capitalist would 
make us advances. We, therefore, addressed ourselves 
to the President of the Government Labour Com- 
mission. But he had no funds at his command ; that 
is, the very man who had undertaken to organise the 
associations, had not a single farthing at his disposal. 
Nevertheless, thanks to his efforts, we obtained, on the 


10th of April, from the Public Discount Office, 
established by the Government to lend money on 
good securities, a loan of twelve thousand francs, which 
enabled us to get to work. When the counter- Revo- 
lution got the upper hand, our contract was suspended, 
and afterwards brutally quashed by the Right of Might. 
They even refused to make us an indemnity for the 
fifteen thousand epaulettes we had in hand. ' Bring an 
action, if you like/ was the only answer we could get, 
' your suit will last a year. Meanwhile, not a farthing 
shall you touch. Compromise, and we will pay up 
what we owe you. already for goods delivered/ The 
matter was cut short in favour of the city agents by — 

(Signed) " Boulard and Lefranc, 

u Ex-delegates of the Spinners." * 

Such were the exertions that gave rise to a sudden 
up-growth of kindred institutions, whose number, after 
a few months, amounted to more than a hundred, 
belonging to all kinds of trades. It is true, that long 
before 1848, writings and tracts on the subject of 
co-operative association had been circulated amongst 
the workmen. I had myself treated the question at 
full length, as early as August, 1840 ;f and the co-ope- 
rative system had been practically carried out by a little 
band of working jewellers, as early as 1843. This 
association, however, which never numbered more 

* See this letter in the Nouveau Monde, Journal liistorique et politique, 
for December, 1849. 

t See the "Organization of Labour," first edition, 1840. 


than seventeen members, made no proselytes, though 
soundly constituted. The new principle had been 
germinating for years ; but it was only after the 
Revolution of February, and under its animating 
influence, that this principle began to put forth 

God knows by what labours, at the cost of what 
sacrifices, simple labourers succeeded in managing 
great enterprises of industry. From what they 
achieved in the way of self-organised societies, one 
may judge how wonderful would have been the result 
of their efforts, had the State held out to them, 
according to my views, a helping hand. It did just 
the reverse. No sooner did the re-actionists find them- 
selves in possession of power, than they declared war 
against the co-operative system. Those associations 
which originated from the interference of the Luxem- 
bourg, were not even allowed to reap the fruit of the 
important orders I had procured for them from the 
city of Paris ; they were abruptly refused the execution 
of agreements passed with all the forms that render 
a contract binding and sacred ; when an indemnity 
was talked of, the agents of authority interposed 
delays, in the hope that those associations, now so 
cruelly dealt with, would perish before the time of 
payment ; and it even happened, on one occasion, that 
indemnity was flatly refused.* 

On the other hand, how many obstacles had not 
self-organised co-operative societies, exclusively com- 
posed of workmen, to encounter and surmount ; to 

* See the letter, above quoted, from the delegates of Spinners. 


give motion and life to noble ideas ; to overpower 
routine, and to maintain themselves against the pressure 
of the old world, against a formidable display of means 
at the disposal of passions hostile to them against 
the coalition of all monopolies : monopoly of power, 
monopoly of riches, monopoly of science ! 

With such impediments thrown in their way, even 
had they failed, no conclusion could have been fairly 
drawn in condemnation of their principle. More- 
over, who knows not the difficulties of a first debut ? 
In the stormy seas of the New World, how many 
vessels were lost on the yet unexplored breakers 
before the art of navigation had taught men to follow a 
safe and certain course ! 

But here, the experiment, far from being a failure, 
was attended with an extraordinary success. To the 
detractors of association, the working men of Paris 
made a practical answer, like that of the ancient 
philosopher in whose presence motion was denied : 
they did the thing. They associated ; all actuated by 
the same spirit, governed by almost identical rules, and 
aiming at the same general result, that is, at protecting 
the labourer by a kind of social insurance, and 
gradually raising him, by means of fraternal co-ope- 
ration, to the dignity of a self-dependent man. 

So great was the success of the associations in Paris, 
that in some quarters of the town, their pay. tickets, 
which were cashed at the end of every month, used to 
pass current among the trades people, thus serving the 
double purpose of currency and advertisement.* 

* This fact was ascertained by Mr. William Coniugham, M.P., in 


The following statement I extract from a public 
lecture delivered on the 28th of July, 1851, by Mr. 
William Coningham, now member for Brighton : 

" On the 24th of April, I started for the capital of 
France. ... As the principle of co-operative labour had 
always appeared to me an eminently practicable one, it 
was not without surprise, tempered however by distrust, 
that I read in the columns of the daily press, accounts 
of the successive downfall of the Paris associations, 
with the secret memoirs of the last of the co-operative 
cooks. If my surprise were great, it was marvellously 
increased, when, on my arrival in Paris, I discovered 
that, like Mr. Landor's conversations of other cele- 
brated personages, the memoirs were purely imaginary, 
and that, far from the cooks being on their last legs, 
and the fraternal fires extinguished, co-operative broils 
of the most peaceful character still saluted the nostrils 
of the weary pedestrian with a social and savoury odour 
quite peculiar to themselves. In short, I found that 
there were in Paris upwards of forty associations of 
cooks. I moreover discovered that the much-abused 
fraternal association of tailors, first established in the 
old debtor's prison of Clichy by M. Louis Blanc him- 
self, far from being defunct, had realised a fund of 
70,000 francs, and opened a range of large, well lighted 
and ventilated shops and workrooms in the Faubourg 
St. Denis, and, instead of being at the mercy of either 
sweaters or middlemen, their business skilfully managed 
by functionaries elected by the association from among 

April, 1851, and stated by him, three months after, in a public lecture 
which he delivered at Brighton on the 28th of July, 1851. 


their own members — their original statutes greatly mo- 
dified however, and the system of piece-work adopted.* 
Indeed, so far from the co-operative principle being 
extinct, I found it rapidly spreading through the pro- 
vinces, and the most skilful and intelligent of the work- 
men actively engaged in forming associations, and doing 
so with a sincerity of purpose and devotion to the cause, 
which is beyond praise, and with that self-denial with- 
out which all fraternal co-operation is impossible. The 
practical success of the self-organised co-operative asso- 
ciations in France has thus raised the question from 
the domain of theory to that of fact, and forced it upon 
the attention of her legislators/'f 

When the Clichy association was established, it was 
confidently asserted in high quarters, that nothing 
could be more absurd than an experiment of this sort ; 
that simple labourers could not have sufficient zeal, 
intellect, spirit of order and discipline to do without a 
master. The result has shown how void of foundation 
were these so roundly asserted affirmations. Number- 
less are the testimonies I might adduce to the com- 
petency of operatives to work for themselves, had I to 
trace the history of the co-operative system in France. 

At the Exhibition of Industry in Paris, the associa- 
tion of file-cutters obtained a silver medal for the un- 
rivalled excellence of their work. Immediately after 
the establishment of this association in 1848, such was 

* The circumstance of their statutes being then greatly modified, is a 
mistake. As to the adoption of the system of piece-work, the reasons of 
this change will be seen presently to have had nothing to do with its 
intrinsical merit. 

f See the lecture above mentioned. 


the increase of business, that they were obliged to set 
up in the Faubourg St. Germain a first supplemental 
workshop ; to which it may be added that they were 
able to supply files equal, in every respect, to those 
of the best English manufacture at 25 per cent, less 

In reference to the associations of cooks, the general 
poverty of the people in this occupation was so great, 
that the founders of one of these establishments were 
obliged in order to purchase the provisions necessary 
for the day of opening, to pledge at the Mont de Piete 
their watches, their trinkets, and even their clothes. 
Still, at the end of 1849, there were more than forty 
cooking establishments in a flourishing condition, and 
they were doing business to the amount of two million 
five hundred thousand francs a year. These culinary 
associations are particularly worth mentioning, for the 
effect they had in improving the food of the people. 
In the place of filthy eating-houses, where they were 
rather poisoned than fed, were substituted clean, spa- 
cious, convenient rooms in which the working classes, 
instead of aliments only fit for the gutter, found at all 
times varied and healthy nourishment. f 

Again, among the readers of this book, there may 
possibly be some who remember the superb book-case 
which attracted so much attention in the French depart- 
ment of the great exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 
1851. This master-piece, which obtained a silver 
medal, was sent by the co-operative association of 
cabinet-makers. Nor is it perhaps uninteresting to 

* See the Nouveau Monde for December 15, 1849. t Ibid. 


remark that the design of this beautiful work of art 
was not furnished by any one person, but was developed 
out of the successive practical suggestions of all the 

Now, that among so many associations which were 
seen to rise and prosper, some should have perished at 
their very birth, whilst others, after a brilliant begin- 
ning, happened to fall or languish, is a fact undeniable; 
but it is elsewhere than in any defect in the principle 
on which they rested that the causes of such failures 
are to be found. 

In the first place, let us remember that all the 
associations had not the same origin. Seeing that 
wherever the magic word Association was written, 
the people ran in crowds, and that some of the new 
establishments had obtained a colossal extension after 
a month's existence, certain masters, on the verge oi 
bankruptcy, pulled down their signs, decorated theiil 
shops with the triangle, or symbol of equality, whicn 
was used as an emblem by all the associations, and| 
under a mask, continued, in their old ways, so conj 
triving at once to shear their workmen and gull thel 
public. Nothing fraternal was there, but a deceptive 
semblance, the consequence of which was, that thq] 
fraud being discovered, customers disappeared, and thdl 
tricky speculators were ruined. In such bankrupt-' 
cies, the fate of the workmen, suddenly deprived oi 
employment, would have been the only thing to bd 
lamented, had not the detractors of the co-operative 
system artfully laid on the principle the conse 

* See the Nouveau Monde for December 15, 1849. 


quences of its dishonest simulation by its worst 

In the second place, the Government, instead of 
lending assistance to the working associations, made it 
a point to undermine them by every possible means. 

It is true that, in 1848, under the influence of the 

ideas proclaimed at the Luxembourg, the majority of 

the Constituent Assembly, although opposed to my 

views, was morally compelled to facilitate their first step 

towards a practical result, by opening a credit of three 

millions of francs in favour of the associations. But 

neither in the majority, chiefly Orleanists, nor in 

the Government, composed of Republicans belonging 

to the old school of political economy, was there any 

real desire of promoting social reforms ; and the grant 

II of money was systematically misapplied, the prospect 

J of a share in the national bounty being held out to 

J each association as an inducement to change its 

J original statutes, and to sacrifice the general aim to 

A confined and selfish purposes. 

n j Meantime, all such as, from various motives, longed 
In | for the ruin of the new principle, were busily engaged 
in luring the workmen out of the right path. Affect- 
ing great concern in their material welfare, they were 
striving to break or to loosen the link it had been 
my endeavour to form between the associated opera- 
tives. Imperfect and objectionable as it was, from a 
merely economical point of view, the system of equal 
wages had the advantage of instituting among the 
working classes a sort of a highly moralising alliance 
between the strong and the weak, and of causing the 



individual efforts of everyone to converge to this grand 
end — the gradual enfranchisement of all. In fact, the 
principle of fraternity was intended, not only as a moral 
duty to be performed by the people, but also as a power- 
ful engine to be made use of by them, with a view to 
the ultimate conquest of their self-dependence. Nor 
were my adversaries blind to the import of my views ; 
and, for this very reason, they did their best to set at 
variance the members of the great working family. 
They left nothing untried to detach the most skilful 
workmen from the common cause, appealing to their 
meaner impulses ; diverting them from the considera- 
tion of their true self-interest, by the prospect of a more 
immediate satisfaction of their false self-interest, and! 
expatiating on the injustice done to them in the offer! 
of wages inadequate to their comparative strength andj 
talent ; as though an adequate remuneration of talent 
were the principal feature of the existing order oij 
things, where intelligence is in so many cases broughlj 
into bondage by money or crushed by chance, ancj 
where we constantly meet with millionnaires in thdj 
cradle, men who roll in wealth simply because the^i 
happened to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth 
or, as Beaumarchais says, because they took the troubli 
to come into the world ! 

A fact worth noticing is, that the writer wru; 
figured at the head of the counter-movement 
speak of, was M. Proudhon, who, being the theoris 
of anarchy, felt naturally averse to anything likel 
to be conducive to industrial order. That he bega: 
his career by publishing a book entitled " Propert 


is robbery — la propriete, c'est le vol," is generally 
known ; but what I suspect to be not so well known 
in this country, is that never was there a more 
unrelenting assailant, either of the Socialist leaders, or 
of all the principles on which Socialism rests, than 
M. Proudhon. Before the Revolution of February, he 
had openly attacked the new ideas,* which were rapidly 
spreading through France ; but the Revolution having 
exhibited their force, he bethought him of assuming 
the name, better to decry the thing, and whilst pro- 
fessing to be Socialist, he set upon Socialism with un- 
relaxing rancour. By no paper in France, except the 
Constitutionnel, were the co-operative societies of work- 
men so much abused and calumniated as by the " Voix 
du Peuple,'' whose editor was M. Proudhon. f 

In spite of all this, the co-operative principle remained 
at > for a long while unbroken in certain trades, and was 
modified, in others, with respect to details of applica- 
tion only. But by the side of fervent apostles of a 
doctrine ; by the side of courageous initiators, who had 
not concealed from themselves the difficulties of the 
enterprise and stood ready for sacrifices; there were 
weak-minded men, who thought they should find in a 
new formula of labour the immediate gratification of 
their desires, and a spontaneous welfare. To these I 
had said, over and over again : " Remember that, in 
forming yourselves into associations, you cannot march 
towards the land of promise, except through rugged 

* See his work, entitled Contradictions economiques. 
+ See in the Nouveau Monde, January, 1850, the letter addressed to 
the Voix du Peuple by fifty -nine operatives. 


paths. Let not your expectations be too sanguine, 
lest they might lead you to bitter disappointments. 
Every conquest requires patience and courage; re- 
member that you have not to accept happiness, but to 
conquer it."* Such language was not of a nature to be 
listened to by everyone. Some were seen wavering, 
after a long struggle ; some even allowed themselves to 
be made elements of disorder ; but the greater part of 
the associated operatives displayed the most admirable 

Unfortunately, the reactionists having decidedly got 
the mastery, to the influence of underhand manoeuvres 
was added that of a savage persecution. The working 
associations were subjected to the incessant interference 
of the police. They were harassed in every imaginable 
way, under pretext that they served only as a mask for 
the formation of political societies. The reactionary 
papers did not shrink from the shameful trick of falsely 
announcing the downfal of even the most prosperous 
of them, in order to ruin their credit and to shake the 
confidence of their customers. The Clichy association, 
that eldest daughter of the Luxembourg, was the point 
more especially aimed at. How often had poor Berard 
to repel the slanderous attacks launched from opposite 
quarters, now from Proudhon's Voix du Peuple, now 
from the ConstitutionneL In what civilised country, I 
ask, are not such nefarious attempts at ruining an 
industrial enterprise visited with a severe penalty ? 

* This was the language I held at the Luxembourg, as may be seen in 
the Moniteur ; and this was the language I held when addressing the I 
workmen from London, as may be seen in the Noaveau Monde, August, 


Well, in France, during the presidency of Louis Bona- 
parte, they were not only left unpunished, but en- 
couraged by the Government. 

Long before this, I had been driven out of my 
country ; I lived, an exile, in London ; and all I could 
do, when applied to by the workmen, was to send them 
advice. In August 1849, some of them having con- 
sulted me about the best course to be pursued, I 
answered : 

" Be careful, my friends, not to draw around your 
associations an insuperable circle, or even to render 
them difficult of access. This would be reviving the 
odious system of Jurandes and Maitrises* If associa- 
tions, instead of being opened to all — whenever there \ 
is work for additional hands — were only societies of a 
fixed and determinate number, united by no other 
nobler motive than the common desire of getting rich 
l f at the expense of their brethren, they would no longer 
have anything to distinguish them from certain com- 
mercial societies which abound around us, and would 
simply constitute fresh gangs of speculators. 

"There is another point to which I cannot too 
earnestly call your attention. You have suffered com- 
petition to be introduced amongst your co-operative 
bodies. What has been the consequence? More than 
once, three associations, for want of a sufficient number 
of customers, have failed, where one alone would have 
prospered. This result would not have occurred, if the 
distribution and the management of associations had 


* By jurandes and mciitrises is meant institutions like the ancient 
guilds in this country, that is, trade monopolies. 


been entrusted to careful hands, instead of being 
abandoned to caprice and hazard ; if a methodical plan 
had been adopted — a plan fixed upon beforehand by a 
competent committee. Remember this : working 
associations can only live by a mutual and close con- 
nection. There must be established between them the 
same bond which exists between the divers members of 
each of them. Isolated from one another, they would 
most assuredly fail in their struggle against the owners 
of privileges. Well united, resting upon one another, 
and giving each other a reciprocal help, they will form 
a compact mass, and will be enabled to resist the crisis 
of politics as well as those of industry, until the day 
when the State shall reckon amongst its first duties that 
of attending to the welfare of the labouring classes. 

" To attain this object, here I suggest the means 
that might be employed : 

" There should be established, under the denomina- 
tion of Committee of Associated Operatives, a Council, 
in which should be represented all associations based 
upon the principle of fraternity. 

"This Council would have for its object : 

" To concentrate all individual efforts ; 

"To investigate the great questions of production 
and distribution. 

" To help in the formation of nascent associations, 
and the development of those that are in existence ; 

" To control the mutual intercourse between asso- 
ciations, for the exchange of produce, the loans, 
advances of money, tenders, bills of exchange, and 
circulation, &c. 

"union of associations." 185 

"The Committee of Associated Operatives would 
direct their attention to those institutions which are 
the complement of association ; such as stores, bazaars, 
labourers' homes, provident funds, asylums. 

" They would exercise upon all associations a frater- 
nal watchfulness, and would impart to them that 
uniformity of movement which is so desirable. 

" Some associations exist in the provinces and in 
foreign countries ; the Committee would take it upon 
themselves to establish relations between these and 
the Parisian associations. 

" Finally, they would occupy themselves with opening 
outlets to their produce by means of exportation — that 
commercial act so indispensable to the continual pros- 
perity of great factories. 

" Independent of the Committee, the associations 
would preserve their special direction, as well as the 
disposal and management of their capital. 

" Such is, my friends, the plan I bring under your 
consideration." * 

These suggestions were far from being fruitless. A 
committee was formed, which took the title of Union 
of Associations, eomposed of twenty-three members, 
who began to act as a central body, and in a short time 
acquired a considerable influence. It would carry me 
too far to enter into a detail of their industrial opera- 
tions ; suffice it to say, that they presented the aspect 
of a vast institution devoted to the interests of the work- 
ing classes, and doing itself, for them and by their aid, 

This letter will be found in extenso in the Nouveau Monde, where it 
was published in August. 1849. 


that which the State had refused, and was actually 
opposing. This being the germ of operative self- 
government on an imposing scale, soon gave umbrage 
to the Government, which, in default of any lawful 
means of crushing it, had recourse to a miserable pre- 
text for interference. A letter of mine, found amongst 
the Committee's papers, referring exclusively to indus- 
trial matters, furnished the opportunity of charging 
them with being directors of a political society. A 
more indecent proceeding can scarcely be conceived. 
People in this country will have difficulty in believing 
that men should be prosecuted and found guilty on 
such flimsy evidence as this ; nevertheless, such was the 
case, and though Mr. Delbrouck, one of the most 
active and able managers of the Committee, clearly set 
forth what had been done, and what had been proposed 
to do, in a sober, impressive, and admirably reasoned 
speech, he was sentenced to the monstrous punishment 
of fifteen months' imprisonment, five hundred francs 
fine, and five years' deprivation of civil rights. " But 
this defence," says a writer by no means partial to 
Social experiments on a large scale and of comprehen- 
sive import, "was certainly not wasted on behalf of 
practical Socialism; showing, as it did, once for all, 
how much there is of moderation, and of elevation of 
views, in those who are devoted to it." * 

The association of Clichy, it will be remembered, 
was the principal target at which the enemies of the 
Luxembourg directed their arrows. The reason of 

* U Association Ouvriere, industrielle et agricole, par M. Feugeray, 
p. 126, Paris, 1851. 


their animosity was, that principle of fraternity on 
which its statutes were based, and which received a 
practical, although imperfect, application in the equal 
partition of wages. Obstructed in their operations, 
and worried out by these repeated attacks, some of the 
members suggested such a modification of their statutes 
as might stay the violence of this persecution. The 
proposition, though necessitated by circumstances, 
being rejected, out of a feeling of delicacy to me, it 
was agreed that I should be written to, with a view of 
obtaining my consent. This Berard undertook to do. 
He accordingly wrote to me, setting forth the diffi- 
culties of the position, and biassing me, with evident 
hesitation and reluctance, to consent to the adoption of 
the proposed measure. 

In reply, I stated I knew of no reason why the 
decision should be made to depend on me ; but, since 
it was their pleasure to make it so, I could not with- 
hold my sanction to a policy thought expedient by 
them, and of which they, in actual presence of the 
difficulties, must be the best judges. But, at the same 
time, I thought it my duty to warn them, that I did not 
think this modification of their rules would afford them 
any relief from implacable attacks, which were directed 
against the very existence of the association itself, as 
tainted with the original sin of having first been set on 
foot by the Luxembourg. 

Unhappily, my anticipations were not void of founda- 
tion. The systematic obstructions, thrown in the way 
of the association often exhibiting themselves in 
infamous and mendacious attacks upon its credit, such 


as in England would have been severely punished, and 
such as no trader, however solvent, could withstand, 
finally proved insurmountable. After courageously 
struggling for some time, the association was compelled 
to stop ; and its moving spirit, poor Berard, soon 
after died, his feeble constitution completely broken up 
by the severity of his exertions. 

But, though an association had fallen, association 
still survived. " They had scotched the snake, not 
killed it." The principal offender was destroyed ; but 
around it other associations had sprung up, which, in 
spite of the long struggle they had to go through, 
survive to this hour, and are prosperous. 

From a statement, for whose accuracy I am able 
personally to vouch, I can give the particulars of about 
twenty of those associations now in existence ; those, 
namely, of the cabinet-makers, arm-chair makers, 
masons, turners, last-makers, tailors, file-makers, walk- 
ing-stick makers, spectacle -makers, tinmen, black- 
smiths, lanthorn-makers, brush-makers, wheelwrights, 
engravers, machine-makers, piano-makers, &c. &c. 

Not only are all these, with one or two exceptions, 
in a most thriving condition, but their success is in 
curious disproportion to the bareness of means with 
which they started. 

Who could, for instance, have expected that the 
association of masons, which, on the 10th of August, 
1848, began business with a loan of 38 francs, advanced 
by an architect, M. Delbrouck, would have acquired a 
working capital of 237,000 francs, with which they 
were doing business to the amount of 1,200,000 francs 


in 1856, and of 1,000,000 francs in 1857 ? There are 
95 members, and, what is more extraordinary, they 
have never received anything from the State, out of 
the three millions voted in 1848 by the Constituent 

A singular case is that of the co-operative association 
of last-makers, who, having begun with four members 
and a capital of two francs, are, at present, doing a 
business of from 70,000 to 79,000 francs, with a 
net profit of from 3,000 to 4,000 francs. It is said 
to be the largest last-making concern in or out of 

The association of file-makers, also founded in 
1848, was, last year, doing business to the amount of 
101,176 francs, and has realised a capital of 47,638 
francs 3 centimes, after having repaid, on the 4th of 
September, 1856, a loan of 10,000 francs it had 
received from the State. The number of members — at 
the beginning, 13 — is now 17.* 

Lord Normanby, of course, had no eyes for this 
great social movement which passed before him ; 
unless, indeed, having said much he ought not to have 
said, he thought it right, by way of equipoise, to omit 
much he ought not to have omitted. The omission is 
all the more striking, since his lordship should have 
known that this question of industrial co-operation has 
attracted the favourable attention of eminent minds in 
England. I am sorry that Lord Normanby, through a 
sense of modesty, should not have aspired to a place in 

* For further details, see the Appendix, No. 4. 


this distinguished company, at the risk of being ranked 
with those prejudiced and superficial observers described 
in the following passage : 

A writer of great influence in his day, — and a Tory 
writer, too, — Southey, alluding to certain co-operative 
experiments suggested in England, says: "The political 
economists will, of course, point their glasses at the 
distance, and calculate the result with unfailing cer- 
tainty; but we have no faith in the reports of these 
political star-gazers. We leave them to prophesy, 
contenting ourselves with the humbler task of watch- 
ing the progress and awaiting the issue of the experi- 
ment. It is, at present, in its infancy — a cloud no 
bigger than a man's hand. Whether it is to disappear 
in heat, or gradually spread over the land, and send 
down refreshing showers on this parched and withered 
portion of society, God only knows — time only can 
reveal." * 

Since this was written, time has begun its reve- 
lations, and the cloud is becoming visible to the 
naked eye. 

Moreover, in justice, I must say, amongst the " star- 
gazers," as Southey calls them, there are some real and 
great astronomers ; but they are precisely those who 
have not overlooked the importance of the co-operative 

* "Quarterly Review," No. 98, Art. "On the Co-Operatives," pp. 

I have no difficulty in ascribing this paper to Southey, on its internal 
evidence, and from the fact that, in his well-known work, "Colloquies 
with Sir Thomas Moore, or, Prospects and Progress of Society," he has 
expressed himself still more positively on the practicability of the 
co-operative system. Vol. i., p. 137. 


system. In his " Principles of Political Economy," 
Mr. John Stuart Mill observes : 

" It is most desirable that all these schemes should 
have opportunity and encouragement to test their 
capabilities by actual experiment. There are in almost 
all of them many features in themselves well worth 
submitting to that test; whilst, on the other hand, 
the exaggerated expectations entertained by large and 
growing multitudes in all the principal nations of the 
world, concerning what it is possible in the present 
state of human improvement to effect by such means, 
have no chance of being corrected, except by a fair 
trial in practice. The French Revolution of February, 
1848, at first seemed to have opened a fair field for the 
trial of such experiments on a perfectly safe scale, and 
with every advantage that could be derived from the 
countenance of a government which sincerely desired 
their success.* It is much to be regretted these 
projects have been frustrated, and that the re-action of 
the middle class against anti-property doctrines has 
engendered for the present an unreasoning and indis- 
criminating antipathy to all ideas, however harmless or 
however just, which have the smallest savour of 
Socialism. This is a disposition of mind of which the 
influential classes, both in France and elsewhere, will 
find it necessary to divest themselves. Socialism has 
now become irrevocably one of the leading elements in 

If Mr. Mill be here alluding to those members of the Government who 
were the authors of these experiments, he is quite right ; but if he mean 
the whole Government, a want of unity of action on this point, as is now 
unfortunately known, was a principal reason why the associations did not 
succeed as well as they might have done. 



European politics. The questions raised by it will not 
be set at rest by merely refusing to listen to it, but 
only by a more and more complete realisation of the 
ends which Socialism aims at, not neglecting its means 
so far as they can be employed with advantage."* 

What enhances the value of this most remarkable 
passage is, that, far from these prospects being frus- 
trated, as might well appear to Mr. Mill in 1849, the 
co-operative experiments, in spite of the immense 
obstructions opposed to them, have been attended with 
a success which could hardly, under the circumstances, 
be anticipated. 

* " Principles of Political Economy, by John Stuart Mill," vol. ii., 
chap. 7, p. 326. 1849. 




That public opinion in Europe should have fastened 
upon me the charge of being the founder and the 
organiser of the national workshops; a charge, the 
falsity of which was made so undisguisedly patent — by 
my writings, my speeches, and my acts — by a series of 
official documents inserted in the Moniteur — by the 
evidence adduced before the solemn Commission of 
Inquiry which the National Assembly appointed in 
1848 — by the Histoire des Ateliers nationalize, a special 
and complete statement, for which we are indebted to 
their very director, M. Emile Thomas — by the public 
declarations of MM. Arago, de Lamartine, and Gamier 
Pages, all members of the Provisional Government — 
by my public and repeated denials, never contradicted, 
of any connection whatever with those national work- 
shops—in fine, by the confessions of their real con- 
trivers — is certainly one of the most extraordinary 
illustrations on record of the power of calumny, when 
used as the common weapon of divers hatreds con- 
spiring for the destruction of an idea, in the person 
of a man. 

194 m. makie's 

I proceed to give the details of the evidence here 
alluded to. On the twenty-seventh of February, 1848, 
in the first days of the Revolution, before the experi- 
ment of the Luxembourg was thought of, the Moniteur 
published the following decree : " The Provisional 
Government decrees the establishment of National 
Workshops. The Minister of Public Works is charged 
with the execution of the present decree." 

The Minister of Public Works at that time was 
M. Marie. 

The situation of Paris immediately after the great 
shock of February is well known. The immediate 
consequences of so violent and unforeseen a crisis, were, 
of course, a disturbance of industrial operations, a 
panic among capitalists, and a considerable multitude of 
working men thrown upon the streets, starving for want 
of work, and armed. Such a state of things could not 
but cause uneasiness to the Government, and hence the 
decree above mentioned. 

But what were these Ateliers Nationauoo to be ? A 
mere ruinous empirical expedient, or a noble and 
vigorous experiment of the organisation of labour ? A 
temporary resource against the rigour of circumstances, 
or a starting point of social regeneration ? The Moni- 
teur had pronounced the name ; how was the thing to 
be understood ? 

M. Marie knew my opinions better than any one ; 
for only a few days before the Revolution of February 
in a rather numerous gathering of deputies and jour- 1 
nalists in his own house, I had clearly explained them; 
and I may add, they had encountered no more decided 


opponent than M. Marie. And yet, it was to him, who 
totally misunderstood and dreaded Socialism, who had 
sworn in his heart to resist it a Voutrance, that an 
organisation of the national workshops was to be 
abandoned; it was by him, as Minister of Public Works, 
that it was naturally demanded ; it was to him and to 
him only, that the majority of the Council, of which 
he was a member, was willing to see it entrusted. 

If on the 28th of February, when the people 
swarmed in vast masses on the Place de Greve, to 
demand the creation of a Ministry of Labour and 
Progress, their demand had been complied with, I 
should doubtless have commenced at once the applica- 
tion of those very ideas which M. Marie, so deter- 
minedly repelled, and to which I had devoted my 
whole life. I have elsewhere related the violent resist- 
ance I encountered to any such proposals ; how my 
resignation was warmly offered and refused; and how 
the bleeding image of civil war was cast into the 
discussion, and how I was made responsible for the dis- 
aster beforehand ; how, in fine, instead of a Ministry 
of Labour and Progress, a simple Commission of In- 
quiry was instituted, without administrative resources 
of any kind, without official agents, without any means 
of action save the use of speech. 

It was thus that the national workshops remained in 

| the sole charge of M. Marie, one of the fiercest adver- 

isaries of Socialism, and the decree of March 6, 1848, 

j which bears his signature, and his only, attests the fact.* 

It is important to observe, that this decree was 

* See the Monitew of March 7, 1848. 



196 m. mabie's "ateliers nationaux." 

framed after a deliberation held, not in the Council, as 
it ought to have been, but independently of the Council. 
MM. Buchez, Flottard, Barbier, Tremisot, Robin, 
Marie, Michel, Baude, Ouffroy de Breville, these were 
the persons who were summoned to decide that terrible 
question which, as the event proved, bore the seeds of 
the insurrection of June. M. Marie was there, of 
course, and M. Garnier Pages, mayor of Paris, presided. 
As for myself, I had neither been consulted, nor even 
informed of the meeting;* it was too well known how 
opposed I was in principle to the ideas which they 
sought to carry out. 

Nay, not only was the direction of the national 
workshops entrusted to a person with whom I was 
unacquainted even by sight ; but one of the claims 
which recommended that person, M. Emile Thomas, | 
to the selection of M. Marie, was his ardent, inde- 
fatigable opposition to my doctrines. The declarations] 
of M. Emile Thomas himself before the Commissioi 
of Inquiry leave no doubt upon this point : 

First, in his deposition of July 28, 1848, M. Emile|| 
Thomas says : " I have never spoken to M. Louis Blanc* 
in my life ; I don't know him." Again : " While 1 
was at the head of the workshops, I saw M. Marie 
daily, sometimes twice a day; MM. Buchez, llecurt 
and Marrast almost every day. Never once M. Ledrd 
Rollin, nor M. Louis Blanc, nor M. Flocon, nor Mj 
Albert." f 

* See VJIistoire des Ateliers nationaux, par M. Emile Thomas, ppjj 

t Report of the Commission of Inquiry by the National Assembly, vol. i. 
pp. 352—358. 


Secondly, on July 28, 1848, he deposes : " I always 
went along with the mayoralty of Paris, in opposition 
to MM. Ledru Rollin, Flocon, and the others. I was 
in open hostility to the Luxembourg. I openly contested 
the influence of M. Louis Blanc." * 

Nor let it be objected, that though these national 
workshops were not organised with my concurrence, 
they were, at all events, in conformity with my prin- 
ciples. The truth is precisely the reverse. We see by 
M. Marie's own words, how much he was opposed to 
my doctrines, and with what earnestness of purpose he 
endeavoured secretly to undermine them. How then 
is it possible to suppose that, from mere wantonness, he 
would have applied the public money to an experi- 
mental trial of them ? 

In point of fact, it is monstrous to confound the 
industrial system developed in my Organisation of 
Labour with the system, so justly stigmatised, of the 
national workshops managed by M. Emile Thomas, 
under the sanction of M. Marie. 

The social workshops, such as I had suggested, were 
each of them to consist of workmen belonging to the 
same trade. 

The national workshops, as put in operation by 
M. Marie, exhibited a collection of worMnen got 
together pell-mell, and — prodigious absurdity ! — all put 
I to the same kind of work. 

In the social workshops, as suggested by me, the 
workmen were to pursue their business, the State 

* Report of the Commission of Inquiry by the National Assembly, vol. i., 
p. 352. 

198 M. marie's "ateliers nattonaux." 

lending them capital, to be repaid according to certain 
stipulations ; they, working exclusively for their own 
profit, with a view to a joint benefit, that is to say, 
with all the stimulus of personal interest, combined 
with the influence exercised by the pursuit of a com- 
mon object, and that point of honour which belongs to 
esprit de corps. 

In the national workshops, as managed by M. Marie, 
the State interfered simply as a contractor ; the opera- 
tives worked only as paid instruments. Now, as the kind 
of labour in these workshops was utterly unproductive 
and absurd, besides being such as the greater part of 
them were unaccustomed to, the action of the State 
was simply squandering the public funds ; its money, a 
premium upon idleness ; its wages, alms in disguise. 

The social workshops, as suggested by me, consisted 
of families of working men, united by the most inti- 
mate ties and identity of interest ; families, therefore, 
seriously concerned in being industrious and in the 
highest degree productive. 

The national workshops, as managed by M. Marie, 
were nothing more than a rabble of paupers, whom it 
was enough to feed, from the want of knowing how to 
employ them, and who had to live together without 
any other ties than a military organisation, and under 
chiefs who bore the name, at once so strange and yet 
so characteristic, of serjeant-majors — brigadiers. 

I might stop here, but I must go farther. I must 
prove that these workshops were organised in hostility 
to me, as the official representative of Socialism. 

It will be remembered, that M. Emile Thomas, in 


his deposition, already alluded to, extracted from the 
" Report of the Commission of Inquiry," says : " I was 
in open hostility to the Luxembourg. I openly con- 
tested the influence of M. Louis Blanc." To this 
avowal, at once so naive and so precise, the ex-director 
of the national workshops has added some very curious 
particulars, which ought to be made known. 

In the first place, he formally declares, that if my 
system remained in the state of theory, it was entirely 
due to the resistance it received from the mayoralty of 
Paris ; * that is to say, from the power in concert with 
which, according to his own confession, M. Emile 
Thomas was managing the national workshops. 

The real truth is, that they were created for no other 
purpose than of placing at the orders of the official 
adversaries of Socialism, an army which, if needs were, 
they might oppose to it. 

The delegates of the Luxembourg did not receive a 
single farthing; the workmen of the national work- 
shops were, on the contrary, paid. As a reward for the 
duties which they discharged with so much zeal, the 
former found themselves exposed to persecutions, which 
went so far as to deprive some of them of their daily 
subsistence ; the latter, on the other hand, depended 
for their own subsistence and their families' on the 
Minister of Public Works. 

But the working men were not to be caught with 
baits like these ; and the enemies of Socialism should 
have known better the men with whom they had to 
deal. As it was, they were not satisfied with having 

* See VHistoire des Ateliers nationaux, par M. Emile Thomas, p. 200. 


embodied, regimentally, thousands of workmen of 
different trades, aggregated pell-mell, and set upon a 
labour equally ruinous and ridiculous ; they were not 
content with having divided that vast crowd into 
brigades, as an army ready to be hurled, at need, 
against the Luxembourg ; but they did worse : they 
inflicted upon this army of the national workshops the 
insult to suppose them purchaseable by an increase 
of pay. 

Let us listen to the precious confessions of M. Emile 
Thomas : 

" M. Marie sent for me to the Hotel de Ville after 
the sitting of the Council. I went there, and was 
informed that a credit of five millions of francs was 
granted to the Ateliers Nationaux, and that the 
financial service would be more regular henceforth. 
M. Marie afterwards took me aside, and asked me, in a 
low tone, whether I thought I could count upon the 
working men. — ' I think so/ I replied ; ' but their 
number increases so considerably, that I find it very 
difficult to possess so direct an influence over them as 
I could wish/ — ' Don't be uneasy about the number/ 
the minister rejoined ; ' if you hold them in hand, the 
number can never be too large ; but find some means 
of attaching them to you sincerely. Don't spare 
money: if necessary, you may be supplied with secret 
service funds.' — ' I don't think this will be wanted : 
indeed, it might be the source of rather serious diffi- 
culties. But for what other purpose than the pre- 
servation of the public tranquillity, do you make these 
recommendations ? ' — ' For public safety. Do you think 


you will be able to master these men completely? 
The day is, perhaps, not far distant, when it may be 
necessary to march them into the street.' 1 " * 

Thus was I without a farthing, at the Luxembourg, 
while the ex-director of the national workshops, in 
order to create a power the object of which was hosti- 
lity to me, received the under-hand offer of a share of 
the secret service money. 

Thus, to the exclusively moral influence which Albert 
and I exercised through the unlimited confidence placed 
in us by the delegates of the Luxembourg, the most 
insidious pains were taken to oppose an influence 
working through corruption, and at the public cost ! 

Thus, while in the Luxembourg, we were only uttering 
words of peace, exhortations to union and tranquillity, 
the covert instructions to the manager of the workshops 
were : " Don't spare money .... do you think you 
can succeed in getting your men well in hand ? The 
day perhaps is not far off when it may be necessary to 
march them into the street ! " 

But this is not all. To provide a permanent 
means of influence over the working population of the 
national workshops, M. Marie and M. Emile Thomas, 
attempted to form a club. 

"The idea suggested by one of the delegates of 
founding a club," says M. Emile Thomas, " very much 
struck the minister, who, when the delegates were gone, 
revived the subject, and asked me what I thought of it. 
I replied, that something good might come of it. . . . 

* See VHistoire cles Ateliers nationaux, par M. Emile Thomas. 

202 m. maeie's " ateliers nationaux." 

I saw in it a splendid opportunity of setting up an 
altar opposed to that of the Luxembourg." * 

But the new altar had no worshippers. Popularity is 
gained, not bought. This failing, nothing was omitted 
that could draw off the delegates of the Luxembourg. 

Well ! was said to them, what good can come of 
all these delusive theories? they talk to you of the 
organisation of labour ! they vaunt the benefits of 
association ! they point out to you the extinction of 
pauperism in the far distance ! Mere rhapsody all this ! 
Utopian dreams, brilliant phantoms by which they lead 
you naked and hungry into the region of chimeras ! 
Come to your senses, you unhappy men; leave to 
themselves these tribunes with their gaudy but barren 
words. Remember that poverty is the inevitable lot of 
the majority. Were your sufferings ever so keen as 
they are now ? Come to a clearer comprehension of 
what is meant by the cries of your children, address 
your inquiries to the pallid cheeks of their mothers. 

Yes, this was the language of men who, for a horrible 
purpose, were scattering capital to the winds, ruining 
credit by loud wailings at its ruin, interrupting labour 
begun, and labour offered. They kept up or aug- 
mented the evil, in order to prove the impossibility of 
destroying it ; eager to show that the new ideas were 
incapable of realisation, they availed themselves of the 
results of manoeuvres employed by themselves for the 
express purpose of preventing their being realised. 

But the people were not deceived by all this. Menaces, 
promises, insidious counsels, distress prolonged almost 

* See VHistoire des Ateliers nationaux, 'par M. Emile Thomas, p. 157. 


beyond bearing, could not shake the representatives of 
the trades ; nothing disturbed the deep calm with which 
they held, at the Luxembourg, their great Inquest. 

And for us — witnesses of this heroism hour after 
hour, of this unpretending and unremitting devoted- 
ness, of virtues whose only recompense was the satis- 
faction springing from an enthusiasm, in some sort, 
sacred — how would it have been possible for us to 
remain untouched by feelings of regard and respect ? 
Receive, ye magnanimous though vilified men, the 
testimony here rendered you, from the depths of exile, 
by a heart whose every throb has been known to you. 
Amid all the ills which have befallen me, and in the 
bitter solitude which surrounds me, one solace remains, 
which it is beyond the power either of my enemies or 
of fortune to deprive me, this is the happiness, the 
glory to be loved by men like you. 

But to resume and to exhaust this matter, I will 
first observe that M. Gamier Pages has vindicated 
me from having participated any way, from first to 
last, in the direction of these workshops.* Now listen 
to the confessions, on the subject of these national 
workshops, which M. de Lamartine has found it neces- 
sary to make in his History of the Revolution of 
February in which he has exhibited an ill-will towards 
me that is sufficiently out of his usual habit, and 
sufficiently dexterous, to put his testimony in this 
matter beyond all suspicion : 

"M. Marie was temporising with the public works, at 

* See Un Episode de la Revolution de Fevrier, par M. Gamier Pages, 
p 48. 

204 m. 

that moment in a state of great neglect. One of the 
political and social solutions of the crisis would, accord- 
ing to some members of the Government, have been a 
large enlistment of men out of work to be employed in 
some productive agricultural labour on a great scale. 
Lamartine was of this opinion. Some socialists, at 
that time moderate and prudent, afterwards angry and 
factious, were desirous that the Government should 
originate a movement of this kind. A grand campaign 
in the interior, with implements for arms, like those 
campaigns of the Romans or Egyptians, for digging 
canals, or draining Pontine marshes, appeared the 
expedient best adapted to a Republic which desired to 
remain at peace, and to save property by protecting 
and elevating the labourer. It was the thought of the 
hour. A great department of public ivorks would have 
marked the era of the policy which the moment required. 
It was one of the great faults of the Government to have 
lost too much time before attempting to realise this view. 
While it was inactive, the national workshops, more 
and more crowded by misery and idleness, became 
day by day more unmanageable, more sterile, and 
more menacing to public order. 

" But as yet, they had not reached this point; they 
were merely an expedient for preserving order, a rude 
auxiliary summoned on the morrow of the Revolution 
by the necessity of feeding the people, and not feeding 
them idle, in order to avoid the disorders of idleness. 
M. Marie organised them with skill, without any useful 
result as respected productive labours. He formed them 
into brigades, he gave them chiefs, he communicated to 


them a spirit of discipline and order. Instead of being a 
force at the mercy of socialists and insurrectionists, he 
for the space of four months made of them a praetorian 
band, inactive indeed, but at the disposal of power. 
Commanded, directed, sustained by chiefs who were in 
secret concert with the anti-socialist part of the Govern- 
ment, the workshops served until the appearance of the 
National Assembly, as a counterpoise to the sectarian 
operatives of the Luxembourg, and the seditious opera- 
tives of the clubs. They scandalised Paris by their 
numbers and the inutility of their labour; they more 
than once protected and saved Paris without its being 
conscious of it. So far from being in the pay of Louis 
Blanc, as has been said, they were the device of his 
adversaries" * 

It is remarkable that, in this passage, M. de Lamar- 
tine imputes it as a fault, attended with fatal conse- 
quences, to the Provisional Government, not to have 
instituted that public department of labour, which, 
suggested by me, was refused by the majority, and 
more especially by him. 

As to the origin of the workshops, their military 
organisation for a purpose already revealed by another, 
and their secret connection with the majority of the 
Government, amounting to a conspiracy, the passage, 
unhappily, speaks for itself ! 

So, the calumny of which I have been made a 
victim is obvious ; but the reason of it is obvious, too. 

The national workshops emptied the exchequer with 
a dead loss; they humiliated the working man, who 

* "History of the Revolution of February," by M. de Lamartine, vol. ii. 


was reduced to accept the bread which he desired 
to earn; they discredited State interference in 
industrial matters. In the place of associations of 
workmen, they set up battalions of paid idlers — a 
strange army, sooner or later to be disbanded at the 
risk of civil war ! The routed logicians of the doctrine 
of Laissez-faire, its vaunting advocates, now in their 
extremity, had, of course, an immense interest in 
fixing upon us the responsibility of all this mischief. 
What a lucky chance for the disciples of the old 
political economy, could they succeed in playing a trick 
upon opinion; could they contrive to pass off as the 
highest practical form of the organisation of labour, 
those national workshops, which were nothing more 
than its ignoble travesties ! There was no mistake in 
the object of this imposture ; it furnished our adver- 
saries, driven to their wits' end for arguments, with the 
opportunity of saying, "Of what use so much reason- 
ing? to all your theories we oppose &fact." * 

* This is the fact alluded to in the following passage of a biographical 
work entitled "Men of the Time," &c, which I give as a sample of the 
sort of information which has been conveyed to the English public respect- 
ing these important events : — " The experiment was made ; a. number of 
the most inefficient workmen sauntered about the ateliers in the day, and 
listened to the glowing declamation of Louis Blanc in the evening ; but the 
certain ruin delayed not ; immense sums were sunk in the experiment, 
which ended in recrimination and general disgust." 

The author has certainly not overdone the bad results of the fact, for he 
might have added, that it ended in insurrection and bloodshed too. The 
trifling objection I have to make to the statement is, that I am ren- 
dered responsible for an experiment to which I was opposed, and re- 
presented as addressing my " glowing declamation " in the evening, to 
persons with whom I had nothing to do, and in places where I never set 
my foot. 

The same well-informed writer favours his readers with a philosophical 


But the associations originated by the Luxembourg 
— those, for instance, of the tailors, spinners, gold-lace 
workers, and saddlers — differing so radically as they did 
from the national workshops, were they not a sufficient 
and exterminating answer to this most impudent of all 
calumnies ? So, it seems to me, it should have been ; 
but the agents of this conspiracy of falsehood applied 
themselves with so much terrible zeal and audacity 
to mystify the facts, that at this very day many people 
confound the national workshops, which no longer 
exist, with those co-operative associations which still 
survive and prosper. 

It is really enough to make one shudder, when one 
thinks how much of hatred, injustice, and atrocity, can 
be compressed into a lie. 

It is as the organiser of the national workshops, 
organised against me, that I have had and have legions 
of enemies. 

It is as the organiser of the national workshops, 
organised against me, that, in the opinion of the 
immense crowd of the ignorant, I have become 
accountable for the convulsions of industry and the 
calamities of the time. 

It is as the organiser of the national workshops, 
organised against me, that I have been accused by 
every one who felt that his affairs were in a slippery 

It is as the organiser of the national workshops, 

view of the direful influence exercised over my career and writings by a 
slight I once received from the Duchesse de Dino, whom it has never been 
my good fortune to see in my life. 

208 m. marie's " ateliers nationaux." 

organised against me, that I have narrowly escaped 
two cowardly attempts at assassination; the first, on 
the very threshold of the Assembly; the second, in 
midday, on the crowded boulevard. 

Do you want a synonym for calumniator? Here it 
is : Assassin. 




Alliances between States are matters, of course, 
of the highest moment. But in order that such 
alliances should be permanent and secure, they must 
be formed between governments of a nature similar 
and congenial. Otherwise, the advantages may be 
one-sided, and there will be an absence of that equality 
of conditions indispensable to the duration of a good 
understanding. Consider, for instance, the relation of 
constitutional England to France, as supposed to be 
represented by the Imperial Government. How disad- 
vantageous to the former, from the very nature of 
things ! All being open as the day in England, and 
every motive, feeling, and view easily ascertainable, the 
Imperial Government is enabled to regulate its course 
by an accurate estimate of facts. On the contrary, 
everything being veiled in France, England is obliged 
to proceed by guesses or on trust. This is, indeed, an 
alliance between light and darkness. 

Every national act being in England the result of 
slow public deliberation and of exhaustive discussion 
between various political parties, each throb of the 
nation can be felt, every step be foreseen and the 


French Imperial Government is made aware, not only 
of what is doing, but of everything likely to be done, 
and can guard at leisure, if needs be, against any 
probable contingency. On the contrary, all beinj 
mystery in France, each coming hour an enigma 
impossible to solve, and the policy entirely dependent 
upon the caprice of a single man, England must be at 
every moment in the dark, and may at any moment be 
taken unawares. 

As, at present, all alliances are, more or less, games 
of skill, it is obvious that, in one between an autocratic 
government and a constitutional monarchy, the despot 
is a player who overlooks both hands. 

Something more lamentable still in this case is, that 
there is risk either from the wisdom or the folly of 
the despot. 

For, if he be wise, foresight is easy to him, whilst it 
is impossible to you. 

If he be a fool, you are exposed to being the victim 
of any rashness or frenzy that may seize him ; and 
what, with you, only a parliamentary decision could 
effect, will be, perhaps, with him, the consequence o1 
an extra glass of champagne. 

The alliance of England with Louis Bonaparte i^ 
therefore, as unsafe as it is unnatural ; and the extra- 
ordinary efforts of Lord Palmerston to make such 
alliance the pivot of the English polic}^, shows thai 
there is little of a statesman in him. 

Not that I think it would have been advisable, 01 
the part of England, to declare war against the Empii 
or to provoke it in any way. Great as my conviction 

• ! 



is that Louis Bonaparte represents nothing else in 
France than brute force trampling* on intelligence ; 
that his accession to supreme power was a bloody 
usurpation ; that the alleged consecration of the 2nd 
of December by universal suffrage was a sham ; and 
that it is bitter mockery to call the " choice of France/' 
as Lord Palmerston did of late in Parliament, a man 
who, in order to maintain himself, has avowedly no 
other resource than to hold France crouching, motion- 
less and breathless, beneath the sabre • still, I cannot 
blame England for having shrunk from the dangers of 
a breach. But, to preserve peace, was it absolutely 
necessary to jeopardise the cause of freedom, and to 
abandon the cause of justice ? Could not the calamities 
of a struggle be warded off, without converting a 
dignified prudent reserve into an unconditional alliance, 
and an unconditional alliance into a system of bound- 
less adulation ? How fatal to the principle of Liberty 
in Europe, the spectacle of a despot, one day repro- 
bated and cursed as such by the whole English people, 
and the very next day crossing London in triumphant 
march, amid rapturous acclamations ! 

To what extent all this was consistent with morality, 
I will not stop here to inquire ; but was it consistent 
with the real and permanent interests of England ? 
Certainly not. The real and permanent interests of 
England consist in winning the sympathies of France, 
and nothing could be better calculated to alienate them 
than to fawn on him by whom she is enslaved. 

To mistake an alliance with Louis Bonaparte for an 
alliance with France is an error likely, if not corrected, 



to give rise, at the next turn of the wheel, to the most 
sinister complications ; and I do not hesitate to assert 
that the closer the connection between the two govern- 
ments, the greater the difficulty of maintaining, in 
future, the amity of the two nations. 

Nor is the price to be paid for this friendship 
between the two governments a matter of slight con- 
sideration to England. The " Conspiracy Bill," exacted 
by the imperial diplomacy, and backed by military 
threats, was but the commencement of a blockade 
against the principles of the English nation, and, as a 
means of weakening its power, a first aggression upon 
its honour. It may be very well for Lord Palmerston 
to affect about the matter a tone of supercilious levity. 
But, when two men stand face to face, who does not 
know that the retreat of one is to the other an irre- 
sistible inducement to march on ? More than temerity 
itself, fear invites danger, and every step is, indeed, the 
descent from one humiliating concession to another. 

Had the leading politicians of this country had a 
clear insight into their own situation as compared with 
that of Louis Bonaparte, they might have kept him in 
awe, instead of being kept in awe by him. They had 
only to let him infer that, although determined to, 
refrain from any offensive measure, if respectfully dealt j 
with, they were ready, in case of disagreement, to 
bestow on the liberal party in France an effective \ 
support. Such a policy would have been consonant' 
both with the principles and the interests of a fr 
country ; the sympathies of an oppressed nation would 
have supplied England with a powerful lever; Louis 


Bonaparte would have been brought by the sense of 
his perils to have a due regard for her ; and so, peace, 
far from being endangered, would have been secured. 

Unfortunately, the policy adopted has been just the 
reverse. Whilst these short-sighted politicians were 
caressing Louis Bonaparte — calling him, through sheer 
flattery, the Saviour of Europe ; congratulating him, in 
the name of a free people, on his having made a 
successful attempt against freedom, and thus putting 
his pride to the utmost stretch — they seemed to take 
delight in estranging from England the most en- 
lightened, liberal, and generous portion of the French 

The results are what every one can see and appre- 
ciate at this very moment. England has been sum- 
moned to alter her laws by those very soldiers through 
whose exertions Louis Bonaparte became " the Saviour 
of Europe ! " 

If I mistake not, the reason why the English people 
have suffered their political leaders to pursue a course 
so dangerous and so absurd, lies in certain prejudices 
sedulously spread and fostered in this country, respect- 
ing the Republican party — the only one fated to rule 
France. The English people were taught that, should 
the Republicans get the mastery, their foreign policy 
would be one of restless encroachment and military 
conquest. It is, therefore, important to relate the 
events that have reference to the foreign policy pro- 
claimed in 1848 by the Provisional Government. 

I will not try to exonerate the French Republicans 
from the glorious charge of claiming for France the 


right to assist any nation trampled on by foreign 
conquerors. I openly confess that the party to which 
I belong, regards the force of France as appertaining, 
not to herself only, but to humanity, and considers it 
her duty to put, when possible, the vindication of other 
" oppressed nationalities " on a level with the defence 
of her own. One of the grounds on which the French 
Republicans object to a monarchical form of govern- 
ment certainly is, that it involves a necessary derelic- 
tion from this high duty, by making national policy 
subservient to merely dynastic interests. Seeing that no 
despotic government has ever scrupled to aid another 
despotic government, whenever its aid was asked for, 
they cannot conceive why a free nation should be 
bound to forbear aiding another kindred nation, when 
unjustly assailed, or brought into bondage ; and, as 
stated in my " History of Ten Years," it was with 
a feeling of genuine indignation, that, during the reign 
of Louis Philippe, they heard M. Casimir Perrier say, 
from the parliamentary tribune : " Le sang francais 
n'appartient qu'a la France." 

But as much as the French Republicans are inclined 
to assist " oppressed nationalities," by mediation, by 
money, even by arms, if needed, so much are they 
averse to any war 'intended for the selfish purposes of 
ambition, military glory, and territorial conquests. 
The necessity of war, on certain occasions, is, in their 
eyes, one of the saddest proofs of the unsound con- 
dition of the world ; they hold standing armies to be 
inconsistent with liberty, and they feel acutely enough 
how easily a victorious warrior is changed into a tyrant. 


Never was war so strongly deprecated as by Robes- 
pierre in 1792 ; it was in spite of his resistance, 
seconded by that of the Jacobins, that France was 
brought to unsheath her sword against Austria ; and it 
is a well-established, although not universally known, 
fact, that, in 1793, the war against England was forced 
upon the Convention by the systematic and repeated 
provocations of Mr. Pitt. * Nor must it be forgotten, 
that the Constitution of 1793, drawn up by the most 
determined Montagnards, contains this clause : f( The 
French people does not interfere with the government 
of other nations, and allows no other nation to interfere 
with its own."t 

But, while laying down this general principle as the 
foundation of their foreign policy in ordinary circum- 
stances, Robespierre and the Montagnards meant by 
no means to disclaim the right, or to neglect the duty, 
of interference, whenever there was an act of tyran- 
nical violence perpetrated, obviously involving conse- 
quences contrary to the eternal laws of humanity and 
justice. For this is another clause of the Constitution 
of 1793 : " The French people are the natural allies of 
all free nations ; " and as to Robespierre, he went so far 
as to say, in his Declaration of the Rights of Man: 
" He who oppresses one single nation declares himself 
the enemy of all nations." 

Such were the ideas of the Republican party in 
France about foreign politics, when, on the 2nd of 

* Those who are desirous to get closely acquainted with all the particu- 
lars, will find them stated at full length in my " History of the French 
Revolution," vol. ix., p. 33. f Ibid, vol. ix., p. 29. 


March, 1848, the Provisional Government were called 
upon to discuss M. de Lamartine's Circular Manifesto 
to the European powers. 

Three questions were to be solved : 

Should a right be asserted, in the name of the 
French people, to afford military aid to nations 
attempting to shake off a foreign yoke? 

Should the treaties of 1815 be repudiated? 

Should a desire to maintain peace be expressed ? 

Upon the first point there could be no difficulty ; 
and the following passage of M. de Lamartine's 
Manifesto met with unreserved approbation : — 

" We avow openly, that if the hour of reconstruction 
for certain oppressed nationalities in Europe appeared 
to us to have struck in the decrees of Providence; if 
Switzerland, our faithful ally since Francis I., were 
constrained or menaced in that growing disposition 
developing within her to lend one prop more to 
the group of democratic governments ; if the inde- 
pendent states of Italy were invaded; if the attempt 
were made to impose limits or obstacles to their 
internal transformations, or to contest by force of arms 
their right of allying themselves with each other to 
consolidate a common country; the French Republic 
would consider itself at liberty to take up arms for the 
protection of these legitimate movements of growth 
and nationality." * 

It must be observed, that the matter in hand was a 
very ticklish one. Cases of national usurpation being 
generally of a more or less relative character, and 

* See the Moniteur of the 5th of March, 1848. 


consequently, more or less open to dispute, it is very- 
difficult, if not impossible, to trace beforehand an inva- 
riable and rigid line of demarcation between the duty 
of interference and the rule of non-interference. It 
was, therefore, a judicious policy to reserve to France 
the appreciation of the hour, the moment, the justice, 
the cause, and the means by which it would be fitting 
for her to intervene. 

But the assertion of the right alluded to, even 
confined within these limits, has been made the occasion 
of the most extraordinary attacks on the Provisional 
Government. We have been charged with a breach of 
received principles, with a bold defiance of the law of 
nations, by the very men who admire Pitt for having, 
previous to any declaration of war, stirred up the 
French Royalists to rebellion against a French national 
assembly issued from universal suffrage ! We have 
been insultingly assailed by Lord Brougham * for pro- 
fessing the very doctrine to which England, a few 
months ago, had recourse, in her attempt to free the 
Neapolitans, not from the yoke of foreign conquerors, 
but — a much bolder encroachment ! — from the despot- 
ism of their native ruler ! If the principle of inter- 
ference is inviolable, why did the great powers of 
Europe agree, in three instances, to violate it, by 
interfering, as was remarked by Mr. Mill, between 
Greece and Turkey at Navarino, between Holland and 
Belgium at Antwerp, and between Turkey and Egypt 
at St. Jean d'Acre ? Again, if any meddling with the 

* In the pamphlet which called forth the admirable and overwhelming 
reply of Mr. John Stuart Mill. 


affairs of another nation is absolutely contrary to the 
law of nations, as understood by Lord Brougham, why 
was Russia suffered to march an army to crush the 
Hungarians? and why is Louis Bonaparte suffered to 
maintain in Borne a garrison of French soldiers, for 
the purpose of enforcing the obedience of the Italians 
to the degrading despotism of the priests and the Pope? 
How scandalous that, in certain quarters, the same 
principle should be held most wicked when proclaimed 
in behalf of the oppressed, and perfectly sound when 
carried out in behalf of the oppressors ! 

Respecting the treaties of 1815, the draught sub- 
mitted to the Provisional Government for examination 
was by no means explicit. M. de Lamartine had 
evidently been fearful lest his Manifesto should sound 
all over Europe like the blast of a trumpet. To so 
much caution I did not hesitate to object; and I urged 
the danger of leaving so important a question unde- 
cided. It may be said, without exaggeration, of every 
Frenchman, that there is not a fibre in him which 
does not thrill at the bare remembrance of the treaties 
of 1815. They were imposed by conquest; they 
were agreed to by an intrusive government, under 
circumstances of humiliation never to be forgotten ; 
they were signed before the territory had ceased to 
be occupied by foreign armies ; they were avowedly 
intended, not only to bring France as low as possible, 
but to imprison her between insurmountable barriers ; 
and " whereas, within the last half century, Eng- 
land, Russia, and Prussia had been aggrandised by 
important acquisitions, the French dominions w T ere 

TREATIES OF 1815. 219 

actually less extensive than they had been under 
Louis XV." * Were engagements of this sort of a 
nature to bind France for ever? Nothing, indeed, 
could have been more absurd than such a pretension 
on the part of the other parties, who, although inter- 
ested in the maintenance of the said treaties, had 
never scrupled to violate them at their pleasure. After 
what had been seen at Cracow, in Italy, in Hungary, 
and in Germany, could any one deny that the treaties 
of 1815 had become waste paper, a bit of which was 
torn away by each party in turn ? I, therefore, pro- 
posed that they should be peremptorily declared no 
longer binding on France. I need not add that 
the feeling of all the members of the Provisional 
Government was equally strong against them. Only, 
the minority, to which I belonged, was, perhaps, less 
open than the majority to the fear of displeasing 
foreign courts, and thus endangering peace. To re- 
move the difficulty, a middle course was proposed, con- 
sisting in the solemn repudiation of the treaties of 1815 
as obligatory, on the one hand, and, on the other, in 
accepting their territorial arrangements as existing facts, 
to be modified through diplomatic negotiations or any 
other proceedings which circumstances might suggest. 

The following is, in reference to this point, the 
passage adopted : 

"The treaties of 1815 no longer exist as obligatory, 

* These are the very words used by an English writer, as illustrating 
the truth of this remark : — "There is nothing surprising in the fact that 
the treaties of 1815 should be distasteful to France." See " Edinburgh 
Review," vol. lxxxvii., p. 585. 


in the opinion of the French Republic; but the terri- 
torial boundaries fixed by those treaties are an existing 
fact, which the Republic admits as a basis and a 
starting point in its relations with other countries. 
But, while the treaties of 1815 no longer exist except 
as a fact, to be modified by common agreement, and 
while the Republic openly declares that it has a right 
and a mission to arrive regularly and pacifically at such 
modifications — the good sense, the moderation, the 
conscience, the prudence of the Republic exist, and are 
for Europe a better and more honourable guarantee 
than the letter of those treaties, which she herself has 
so often violated or modified." * 

I read in Lord Normanby's book : 

"March 3. Lamartine stated to me to-day that he 
wished to mention to me the substance of his Circular 
Manifesto to the European powers, which had been 
discussed in the Provisional Council yesterday, and 
which would be issued in two or three days. He said 
that I was aware of the feeling which had existed for 
the last thirty years in France upon the subject of the 
treaties of 1815, the humiliation of which they had 
been considering as the constant record. He should 
have wished to have said nothing whatever about them, but 
this seemed impossible. He should be obliged to allude 
to the manner in which they had been violated, &c. ; 'f 

I hope, for M. de Lamartine's sake, that his lord- 
ship's memory has played him false ; but, unhappily, I 
am not entitled to contradict this statement, as I could 

* Moniteur of the 9th of March, 1848. 
f " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i., pp. 16*4, 1G5. 


not by any possibility be present at the interview. 
At all events, from this specimen of thoughtless indis- 
cretion, M. de Lamartine will learn how little prudent 
it is, for a minister of foreign affairs, to make a foreign 
diplomatist his confidant. 

The question whether the French Republic should 
declare its intention to remain at peace, gave rise to 
no discussion. I think, however, that the terms used 
by M. de Lamartine in his manifesto did not com- 
pletely answer the views or gratify the feelings of the 
minority of the Council. For my part, I should have 
preferred on this point, a language less warm and 
more sober. To say, for instance : " The French 
Republic desires to enter into the family of instituted 
governments — La Republique francaise desire entrer 
dans la famille des gouvernements institues," * was, in 
my opinion, to overshoot the mark. Nor were such 
words quite consistent with these, far more to my 
taste : " To exist, the French Republic needs not be 
acknowledged. — La Republique francaise n'a pas besoin 
d'etre reconnue, pour exister." f Rut, the modification 
referring to the treaties of 1815 once adopted, none of 
us could deny that, upon the whole, M. de Lamartine's 
manifesto was the eloquent expression of the only 
policy then possible. 

Nevertheless, this poliey has been assaulted by two 
parties, from opposite points of view, the one charging 
us with letting loose the spirit of disorder and anarchy 
throughout Europe, the other accusing us of want of 

* See this manifesto in the Moniteur of the 9th of March, IS 48. 
t Ibid. 


determination towards foreign powers, and of an 
attempt to pursue a trimming policy between two irre- 
concileable principles. 

The passages just cited are a sufficient answer to the 
first count of this indictment. As to the second, it 
may be very briefly disposed of. 

What w^as the position? In 1792, all Europe had 
combined to take the offensive against France : in 1848, 
no such result was to be apprehended; no military 
coalition could possibly threaten the cradle of the 
Republic; whether taught by experience, or paralysed 
by internal difficulties, even the governments the most 
hostile to it gave no sign of a disposition to attack, if 
not attacked. 

Besides, England, which had been the soul of former 
coalitions against us, might, in the event of our remain- 
ing at peace, be relied upon as an ally, whereas any 
violent attempt to excite a universal conflagration in 
Europe, would probably have made her our enemy. 

Was there, at all events, any certainty that the 
military protection of France, prematurely pressed upon 
nationalities still unprepared for a decisive struggle, 
would not have aroused their jealousies rather than 
their sympathies ? The Germans had preserved a 
bitter recollection of the revolutionary occupation of 
Mayence and Frankfort by the French, and the famous 
song of the Rhine was not forgotten in Germany, even 
by the democrats. We knew it was among the Italian 
patriots a generally accepted idea that a nation is 
unworthy of being independent, which is not ready to 
work out its independence for itself. The crossing 


of the Alps by a French army would have been viewed, 
all over Italy, with a mingled feeling of suspicion and 
wounded pride. Could any warning be more clear 
than this Italian watch-word : Italia far a da se ? 

Nor was the question less deserving of serious con- 
sideration, as regards our internal affairs. The Republic 
before stretching abroad, had to be consolidated at 
home. Its opponents, in the provinces, were numerous 
and influential. The monarchical parties, stunned by 
the thunder-bolt of February, but not extinguished, 
were on the watch for the next favourable opportunity, 
and could not have failed to take advantage of the 
confusion likely to attend any military outbreak. The 
middle classes were most decidedly averse to war, while 
the ruling idea of the working classes was that of their 
social emancipation. Under such circumstances, would 
it have been wise to put to the venture the fate of the 
new Republic, and, perhaps, to bring upon France the 
horrors of a third invasion ? 

' At any rate, we could not be expected to run head- 
long into so many dangers, without soldiers and 
without money. 

Now, with reference to these indispensable conditions 
of success, let us expose, in a few words, how matters 

The army, such as Louis Philippe had made and left 
it, was by no means able to take the field. Almost on 
the morrow of the Revolution, the most distinguished 
military chiefs having been summoned to the Council, 
and asked questions concerning the forces at our dis- 
posal, I remember their answer was that the state of 


things did not allow France to wage war, at the moment, 
with any reasonable chance of success. A "Defence 
Committee m — " Comite de Defense " was instituted 
with a view to a special inquiry into the military 
resources of the country. Well, this committee, com- 
posed of General Oudinot, General Pelet, General 
Pailloux, General Vaiilant, General Bedeau, General 
Lamoriciere, M. Deniee, one of the heads of the Com- 
missariat, and Major Charras, made a report, stating 
that, in the infantry, no regiment could supply more 
than two effective battalions of 500 men each, nor, 
in the cavalry, more than four effective squadrons, 
amounting in all to 525 men.* In fact, according to 
the estimates of the committee, the total number of 
men disposable did not exceed 101,000, whilst the 
number requisite, in the event of monarchical coalition, 
to line the frontiers, without unfurnishing Algeria, 
could not be less than 514,000 ! 

Soldiers, of course, might have been levied ; but what 
was wanting, as will be seen in the subsequent chapter, 
was, besides time to drill, money to maintain, them. 
For the monarchy of Louis Philippe had bequeathed to 
the Republic finances actually verging on bankruptcy, 
and, in consequence of the social commotion of Febru- 
ary, commercial credit was at the very lowest ebb. 
What should have been done, in my opinion, to meet 
this emergency, I will say presently ; but no financial 
scheme, however well devised, could have made it pos- 
sible for us, at that moment, to force war upon Europe, 

* Itapport de M. Arago a VAssemblce Nationale, seance du 8 mai, 


without running the risk of drowning in blood, both 
the French nation and the Republic. 

The best proof that the moral force of example and 
the prospect of an effective assistance, if required by 
circumstances, were sufficient to cheer on "oppressed 
nationalities" to a, successful vindication of their in- 
dependence — is that very series of spontaneous insur- 
rections which broke out in 1848; nor were they 
l suppressed during the Provisional Government, but 

!1 afterwards, not in pursuance of its policy, but in 
utter opposition to it. Had the principles laid down 
in the manifesto been in force, and all the men who 
had proclaimed them been in power a few months 
longer, the Roman Republic would never have been 
assailed by any foreign troops, still less by French 
soldiers, and Russia would never have been suffered 
to march an army against the Hungarians. The 
Provisional Government resigned their power too soon, 
that is before the provinces had been intellectually 
put on a level with Paris by an incessant and wide 
diffusion of republican principles. This was the irre- 
trievable blunder of the Provisional Government ; and 
for this, those cannot be held responsible, who, like 
myself, did their best to obtain the postponement of 
the elections. 

One word more. Let England remember that, in 

1848, the Republicans held out a friendly hand to her, 

I and then reflect that, on their sympathies with her rests 

the only chance of a real and lasting amity between 

the two countries. 




From the first day of their installation, the Pro- j 
visional Government found themselves on the brink 
of an immense financial abyss. 

The budget of 1848 — the last of the monarchy, and 
not at all, as some persons have been led to believe, 
the first of the Republic — presented a deficit of 245 
millions of francs. * 

Louis Philippe's ministers having, in the short space 
of seven peaceful years, added a sum of 800 millions to | 
the principal of the public debt, this principal, which 
did not exceed 4,267 millions on the 1st January, 1841,1 
amounted, on the 1st January, 1848, to no less thanii 
5,067 millions. 

Such were the strides of the monarchical government' 
towards bankruptcy, that, during the 268 last days oft 
its existence, it was spending, beyond the ordinary re- 
venue, as much as 294 millions, that is more than one 
million of francs a-day ! f 

The treasury bonds had increased to the amount 

* See Rapport sur les comptes du Gouvernement Provisoire, Moniteujm 
tlu 26 Avril, 1849. 

f Jin episode de la Revolution de 184S, par M. Garnier Pages, p. 54. I J 


hitherto unknown, of 3] 8 millions, and the floating 
debt to the fabulous amount of 960 millions. 

Now, what was there in the coffers of the State, on 
the morning of the 24th of February? 

A sum of 57 millions of francs, in securities, available 
at successive periods of the financial year, and whose pay- 
ment had become very doubtful — also 135 millions in 
specie, of which the Bank owed 45 millions to govern- 
ment. But from this sum of 135 millions was to be 
deducted that of 73 millions, destined to the payment of 
the half-year's interest of the five per cent stock. 

Thus — for re-organising our military and naval 
forces, then in a state of decay — for completing the 
public works which had been commenced in the reign 
of Louis Philippe, and could not possibly be inter- 
rupted — for saving industry and commerce from the 
calamitous results of a crisis — for covering the current 
expenses, amounting to about 129 millions a month — 
for meeting the payments constantly coming due on 
account of an enormous floating debt of 960 millions 
— the only means at hand were .... a sum of 72 
millions ! * 

Such being the frightful situation bequeathed by the 
monarchy to the Republic, the ministry of finances was, 
in the first instance, intrusted to M. Goudchaux, a man 
of integrity and courage, but the very type of the 
merely formal Republican, resolute in action, while 

* Tin episode de la Revolution de 1848, par M. Gamier Pages, p. 54. 
It must be remarked that M. Gamier Pages was minister of finances in 
1848, and that the figures I extract from his book rest on official docu- 
ments, undeniable and undenied. 

Q 2 


over-timid in thought, opposing with boldness every 
bold idea, and resisting with energy every energetic 
advance. The Republic, in his eyes, was but one king 
the fewer. Had this been the correct idea of a Re- 
public, he would have been well qualified for the office 
of minister of finances of the Provisional Government ; 
for, to high probity he superadded a large financial 
experience, derived from his occupation as a banker of 
old standing. But, at the outbreak of a revolution like 
that of February, when every thing was in expectancy, 
and so much progress in untried waj r s required, no one 
could have been less fit for the office. Fettered, as a 
banker, by the habit of routine, and never called upon by 
the nature of his business to take comprehensive views 
of social wants, he got alarmed the moment he heard 
that there were to be conferences at the Luxembourg, 
and his alarm, increased by proposals to abolish such 
taxes as had become absolutely insufferable, was con- 
verted into panic, when the journalists urged their 
demand for the suppression of the stamp- duty, as 
materially hampering the liberty of the press. This 
he opposed, upon the grand old obstructive principle 
of refusing to give an inch, lest an ell should be 
required, not perceiving that the Revolution had 
brought with it many obligations not to be eluded, 
and that the obnoxious duty was de facto abrogated by 
the daily appearance of new journals, set up in defiance 
of it. 

On the 3rd of March, at a meeting of the Pro. 
visional Government, attended by all the members, 
except M. Flocon, who was ill, M. Goudchaux pre- 


sented a most doleful picture of the financial position. 
His broken voice, and the depressing character of the 
details he gave, so dismayed the majority of the 
council, that M. de Lamartine, leaning over towards 
M. Garnier Pages, said, with visible anxiety, " How is 
it, Garnier Pages ? Are we really gone ? " — " Est-ce done 
vrai, Garnier Pages, sommes-nous perdus ? " * 

After much perplexed deliberation, it was agreed to 
face the peril manfully. But, on the 9th of March, M. 
Goudchaux tendered his resignation, and on the ma- 
jority declining to accept it, declared that, if they 
persisted, he would, within two hours, put an end to 
himself. "Whereupon they gave way, convinced, from 
the character of the man, he would carry his threat 
into execution. 

It has been given out by M. Goudchaux's friends, 
and I believe stated by himself in his evidence before 
the Commission of Inquiry in 1848 — but for this I 
cannot vouch, not having the report at hand — that one 
of the causes of his resignation was the fears every- 
where spread by the audacious promulgation of the 
doctrines of the Luxembourg. The hollowness of 
such an allegation may be demonstrated by a simple 
approximation of two dates. 

M. Goudchaux^s resignation took place on the 5th 
of March, f 

My first speech at the Luxembourg was on the 10th. J 

* Tins will be found confirmed in M. Garnier Pages' s pamphlet, Un 
episode de la Revolution de 1848, p. 69. 

t See the Moniteur of the 7th of March, 1848. 
X Ibid., 11th of March, 1848. 


It is difficult to conceive how the latter could have 
influenced the former. 

If M. Goudchaux was startled, which was never 
stated, by the shortening of the hours of labour, and 
the suppression of Marchandage — the only steps 
taken by the Luxembourg previous to the 5th of 
March, not only were these unconnected with any 
peculiar doctrines uttered there, but the principal 
feature of the meeting held on this occasion was my 
refusal to yield to any such demands of the operatives, 
without consulting their employers. And it may be 
remembered that it was not until a friendly arrange- 
ment had been made between both parties, that we 
recommended the above-mentioned measures to the 
Provisional Government — a conduct certainly little 
calculated to spread alarm. * 

The truth is, that the crowning reason of M. Goud- 
chaux's resignation was the failure of an expedient 
which he had, with the best intentions, suggested, but 
the effect of which disappointed his anticipations. In 
order to dispel financial uneasiness, and to veil from 
the public the difficulties of the moment, he had, as 
minister of finances, announced in the Moniteur f that 
the government was in a condition to pay, and would 
pay, in Paris on the 6th of March, and in the depart- 

* So imperiously was the shortening of time required by circumstances, 
that, before the opening of the Luxembourg, the proprietors of the Northern 
Railway had, of their own accord, reduced the hours, not only to ten, but 
to nine. This fact is stated by Lord Normanby himself. See "A Year of 
Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 212. 

f Moniteur of the 4th of March, 1848. 


ments on the 15th, the half-year's interest upon stock, 
due only on the 22nd. But this affectation of readi- 
ness to pay what was not asked for, rendered the people 
all the more suspicious, and instead of calming, aggra- 
vated the public apprehensions. * 

The Ministry of Finances being offered to M. Gamier 
Pages, he accepted it, with that self-confidence which 
is one of the features of his character, but to which 
the moral courage required on this occasion imparted 
something really noble. 

Like General Cavaignac, M. Gamier Pages was in 
great part indebted for his political position to the 
prominent part a brother, then dead, had taken in 
the struggles of the Republican party, during the reign 
of Louis Philippe. Although a report was at the time 
current that, on the 24th of February, he showed him- 
self disposed to support the Regency of the Duchess of 
Orleans — a report invariably contradicted by him — that 
he was a sincere Republican, cannot be doubted. But 
he belonged to that class of Republicans, who, mistaking 
the means for the end, do not see that the true and 
ultimate object to be accomplished through a Republic 
is Social Reform. This blindness to the object to be 
aimed at, could not fail to have a mischievous influence 
upon the course he pursued. But whoever noticed the 
physical characteristics of the man, the sickly appear- 
ance of his face, in contrast with the juvenile style of 
his locks, curling to his shoulders ; his frail lank figure, 
his jerking movements, indicative of a highly excitable 

* Un episode de la Revolution, <£-c, p. 65 ; Countess d'Agoult's His- 
to ire de la Revolution de 1848, vol. ii. p. 113. 


temperament, would never have anticipated the earnest- 
ness of purpose, and the steady activity which, in 
carrying out what he undertook, he actually displayed. 
He was ably seconded by M. Duclerc, a man of high 

His first financial measure was one of relief to the 
middle classes, and would have been still more so, had 
it been made to assume a more comprehensive form, 
and had the intervention of the state been admitted in 
a larger degree. 

In the midst of the crisis brought on by circum- 
stances antecedent to the Revolution, but, of course, 
increased by it, failures were spoken of everywhere as 
imminent; the most respectable firms were reported 
to be on the point of stoppage ; some banking houses, 
such as those of Gouin and Garmeron had already 
stopped ; the house of Baudin had also gone ; others 
were struggling against the torrent, with great difficulty ; 
and manufacturers, merchants, tradesmen, all of them 
suddenly bewildered, turned to the Provisional Govern- 
ment for assistance. 

As the most pressing evil to be remedied arose from 
an excessive contraction of credit, the Bank of France 
discounting no bills which did not bear three good 
indorsements, a number of commercial people were 
brought to a stand still. As a measure of relief, it 
was proposed to establish throughout France offices of 
discount, where merchants and others, on presenting 
bills with two indorsements only, could get them 
cashed. These offices were not to be permitted to issue 
notes of their own, which would make it necessary for 


them to have the bills discounted by them, re-discounted 
by the Bank of France. 

This suggestion being approved, a decree instituting 
these discount offices appeared on the 8th of March.* 

"In every manufacturing and commercial town 
there shall be established an office of discount, with a 
view to facilitate credit, in favour of all branches of 

" These offices shall have a capital varying according 
to the wants of the places in which they are situated. 

" This capital to be procured in the following way : — 

"One third in money by shareholders. 

" One third in town bonds. 

" One third in treasury bonds." 

As regards the city of Paris, the capital was fixed at 
20 millions.! 

It must be understood that the treasury and town 
bonds w T ere merely securities, available only for the 
purpose of covering a deficit, should any arise. Conse- 
quently, the working capital was expected to be sup- 
plied by the very class which it was our object to 
relieve ; and so far the measure may appear, at first 
sight, to have been inconsistent. But the aim was to 
hold out safe inducements to those of the class that 
were not suffering to advance their money in aid of 
those that were. 

Whilst the Provisional Government was thus bent 
on finding means of relief for the middle classes, 
influential men belonging to that class were busily 

* Moniteur of that day. f Ibid, of the 9th of March. 


employed in getting up a financial riot, the object of 
which was of unparalleled absurdity. They had resolved 
to force upon the Provisional Government a decree to 
the effect that no holder of any bill or obligation 
should be permitted to exact payment until three 
months after its being due. Had such an extraordinary 
decree been issued, what would have been the conse- 
quences ? How could the manufacturer have purchased 
raw material or paid hisworkmen,when deprived, for three 
months, of the money due to him on which he relied ? 
The circulation of money, not less necessary to the life 
of society than the circulation of the blood is to the life 
of man, would have been stopped at once ; our foreign 
commerce would have been destroyed by its becoming 
impossible to execute any further orders on the security 
of French bills ; so that, in reality, we were asked to 
decree What ? Universal bankruptcy ! 

Strange to say, a demand, but too well calculated to 
ruin the very men who made it, was urged with a 
degree of earnestness amounting to fury. On the 10th 
of March, about three thousand gentlemen, who had 
chosen the Bourse for their place of meeting, repaired 
to the Hotel de Ville, exhibiting such angry looks and 
bursting out into such wild threats, that the report of 
an attack upon the Hotel de Ville spread through 
Paris, and the students swarming from every corner 
of the Quartier Latin, ran to the assistance of the 
Provisional Government. 

The self-elected representatives of the " bourgeoisie 
met with a firm and dignified reception, on the part of] 
M. Gamier Pages, energetically seconded byM.Paguerre 


— a circumstance of which I was apprised in the even- 
ing, as I happened not to be at the Hotel de Ville 
when the occurrence took place. Long was the struggle. 
Some of the traders got violent, even to outrage. On 
their selfish impatience being reproachfully contrasted 
by a member of the Provisional Government with the 
heroic power of endurance evinced by the working 
classes, a manufacturer exclaimed, in a fit of wrath : 
'■ Well ! we will show you what those people are. To- 
morrow we will shut up our workshops and shops; 
we will lock the working men out, telling them to 
whom they are indebted for their distress. You will 
see, then, how far they are manageable, and if they 
want nothing more than praise for their patriotism ! " 
But all this was in vain. A delay of ten days had 
been previously decreed, under the pressure of over- 
whelming difficulties; but no imperious summons, no 
threats, could extort from the Provisional Government 
any further concession; and the assailants retired 

The picture of these facts, which were a matter of 
public notoriety when Lord Normanby was writing 
his diary, is softened down by him in his most honied 
language : 

"March 11th. Two days ago the Government had 
a very serious determination to take : they received a 
deputation from men engaged in various business trans- 
actions in Paris, requesting that a further delay of 

* See Countess d'Agoult's Histoire de la Revolution de 1848, vol. ii. 
p. 116 ; and Un episode de la Revolution de 1848, par M. Gamier Pages, 
p. 72. 


ten days in the payment of the echeances should be 
decreed." * 

It is true that the working-men of Paris had nothing 
to do with this unruly demonstration, which probably 
accounts for the lenient form of his lordship's inac- 
curacies on this occasion. 

Meanwhile, the commercial crisis, increasing in vio- 
lence, called for a prompt remedy. Of the three kinds 
of circulating medium which composed the currency 
before the Revolution of February — specie — notes of 
the Bank of France — private paper-money (bills of 
exchange, promissory notes, etc.), — the first hid itself, 
the second was imperilled, and the third had disappeared 
in the whirlwind. 

Not that the Revolution created the evil ; all it did 
was, as I have already said, to bring it to light. It was 
now long, very long, since a bill of exchange put into 
circulation had ceased to betoken that a bond fide seller 
had really handed over to a solvent buyer a product of 
the value represented by the bill. It was also very long 
since a crowd of speculators, without probity or solvency, 
blindly rushing into the general scramble, had forced 
into circulation a mass of paper Avhich, in fact, corre- 
sponded to nothing. The Revolution breaking out, the 
alarm was given. As the distrust extended, it became 
easier and easier to see to the bottom of many manoeuvres, 
which until then had escaped the scrutiny of the parties 
interested. It was discovered that a great number of 
commercial houses had had, for a long time, only a 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. '213. 


factitious existence; that a considerable mass of bills 
of exchange and promissory notes reposed on no base 
whatever, representing merely an imaginary capital ; 
and, consequently, all commercial transactions sus- 
tained by this species of currency came on a sudden 
to an end. A circumstance in high degree fatal, 
if we consider that, before the Revolution of February, 
the paper currency thus so suddenly discredited, 
constituted not less than 12,000 millions of francs 
out of the 15,000 millions which then made up 
the whole currency, including 2000 millions and a 
half in specie, and 400 millions in notes of the Bank 
of France. 

It will not be difficult to understand that the working 
capital of manufacture and commerce consisting of a 
small quantity of specie, compared with the large amount 
of paper securities, there followed, of course, a general 
break up. Having to meet their old standing engage- 
ments with an inconvertible paper, and an amount of 
specie of no avail, many houses were ruined. 

Is it necessary to say that the establishment of offices 
of discount, such as we have described above, was but 
a feeble remedy for so great an evil? The question, 
moreover, was to know if the shareholders would come 
forward? And they, it must be confessed, did not 
show themselves in a hurry to do so. The amount of 
shares taken in the Paris discount office, the gross 
amount of which, we have seen, was fixed at 6,666,000 
francs, did not, on the 8th of August, reach a higher 
sum than 4,051,804 fr. 23 c. 

And that which rendered the aspect of the crisis still 


more alarming was the conduct of many of the rich, 
whose pride, prejudices, or egotism, were wounded by 
the Revolution. Resorting again to the unworthy 
manoeuvre which, the Faubourg Saint Germain had 
employed against Louis Philippe, they cut down all but 
their necessary expenses to the lowest point, disposing 
of their carriages and horses, turning off their servants, 
and practising that severity of domestic economy which 
they knew would starve numbers of working-people, 
and was intended to affect all the branches of industry, 
such as jewellery, dress-making, millinery, painting, 
sculpture, and objects of art of every kind. 

Lord Normanby has taken care, as we have seen, not 
to forget whatever could deepen the shades of the 
Revolution. Why has he abstained from assigning the 
true causes of the evil he describes ? And why does he 
not add, by way of contrast, what it is impossible he 
could be ignorant of — and what is so touching — namely, 
that while the more favoured classes of society were 
engaged in this house-keeping conspiracy, the people 
displayed a patriotism never to be forgotten? For 
then, as in the days of the first Revolution, when the 
country was in danger, poor workmen were to be seen 
running to the Hotel de Ville, carrying a part of their 
hard-earned wages.* Their wives also made offerings 
to the Provisional Government of their chains and 
rings. Young girls, on the eve of their marriage, 
presented their wedding gifts. Numerous were the 
offerings of this kind, imparting a dignity to the 

* I will give a very remarkable example of this, by narrating the events 
of the 16th of April. 

savings-banks'* deposits. 239 

enthusiasm which prompted them ; and, when brighter 
days shall return, history will not recall without emotion 
that it was for the purpose of receiving the gifts of the 
poor, in a rough and trying moment, that the Commis- 
sion was instituted which held its sittings at the palace 
of the Elysee, presided over by two such men as 
Beranger and Lamennais. 

The value of these presents was not, of course, in 
proportion to their abundance : nor could it be other- 
wise, since they came from the workshop or the garret ; 
but though of no value financially, they indicated some- 
thing much more valuable, and that is the greatness of 
soul of which a people is susceptible when animated by 
a love of liberty. A trait would be wanting to this 
picture should I omit to mention what occurred with 
respect to the savings-banks. 

Of the 960 millions of francs constituting the public 
floating debt, 355 millions belonged to those establish- 
ments. Now, their deposits being locked up by the 
late Government in public stock and canal shares, there 
remained in them only a few millions. The crisis 
breaking out, the depositors in a fright made a run for 
their deposits. What was to be done ? Money there 
was none ; the minister of finances was at his last gasp. 
In this extremity it occurred to M. Garnier Pages 
to propose to pay in cash to the depositors a sum not 
exceeding 100 francs, obliging those who insisted on 
having their deposits entirely returned, to receive them, 
one half in five per cent, stock, the other half in 
Treasury bonds. But what was the state of things ? 
The five per cent, stock stood, at that time, at 77 francs, 


and Treasury bonds were at a considerable discount. 
The position, therefore, in which the depositors were 
placed by this measure was one of great hardship, and 
the most angry opposition might naturally have been 
expected from them. 

That M. Gamier Pages thought he was acting for 
the best, under the circumstances, is quite certain; 
and those who have blamed him in this matter with so 
much violence, have not taken sufficiently into account 
the weight of the burden he had to bear. Neverthe- 
less, it is not less true that the depositors had a right 
to say to him, " How ! you put us off, us petty capi- 
talists, us who live from hand to mouth, us, who by 
long and patient self-denial, have scraped together the 
savings thus confided to the good faith of the Govern- 
ment ; and when we come to claim restitution of a 
sacred deposit, you impose heavy conditions on this 
restitution which is our right ; you, who have paid up 
in full to the very minute to the fundholders, their half 
year's interest, many of whom live in comfort, and 
could afford to wait ! " 

Yes, this is the language that these poor people 
might have been justified in using ; instead of which, 
not a complaint was heard, not a single murmur ac- 
cused the Minister of unfairness. The people suffered 
in silence ; proud of suffering for the Republic. 

Nay, more. Many of them did not hesitate to add 
to their sufferings, by a generosity which, under the 
desperate pressure of the times, was really heroic. 
M. Gamier Pages received the following letter, which I 
give here as a specimen of several others of the same 


kind that it would be too long to cite, and which, by its 
very exaggeration, illustrates a salient feature of the 
French character : — 

" You will want money. Permit a poor operative 
who, to use the words of Lamartine, is ' ready to place 
at the service of the Republic, heart, head, and breast/ 
to be suffered to add the words, ' and all that belongs 
to him besides'. All I have in the world is 500 
francs in the savings' bank. Be so good as to put me 
down the first on your list for the sum of 400 
francs, which I hold at your disposal within three 
days of its being called for. The country will pardon 
me if I keep back 100 francs for my own wants; 
but I have been out of work for the last six months." * 

These extraordinary bursts of enthusiasm and this 
self-denial of the poorer classes, betrayed the minister 
of finances into a misconception, for which it is diffi- 
cult to bring oneself to blame him. He had faith in 
the success of a loan, and of a loan, too, on conditions 
obviously disadvantageous to the lenders. He could not 
conceive that, while in what are called the lower classes 
of society, each man was pouring out his substance like 
water, the higher ranks should be able to look on 
unmoved, when the Government of the Republic was 
making every effort to hold back France from the 
abyss which had been dug under her by the Monarchy. 
For, observe, it was no question now of this or that 
form of Government; the subject was France itself; 
and when through the lips of the Minister of Finance, 

* M. Gamier Pages gives this letter in liis Episode de la Revolution, 
pp. 171, 172. 


she cried out to bankers, to large proprietors, to 
opulent capitalists, " Bankruptcy is at hand ; aid me to 
escape it : the Monarchy, you may or may not regret, 
has left us the task of filling up this enormous gulf ; 
help us to fill it." What signified this language, if 
not this? "The vessel which bears you is founder- 
ing, you will, every man of you, be swallowed up with 
us ; help us to save you ! " 

Patriotism, thank heaven ! in France, is not con- 
fined to the workshop and the garret. The Republic, 
as I have already said, had, by its moderation, won 
over to its cause many an insurgent intelligence ; the 
magnanimity of the people had made converts ; and 
proofs of good will reached us from every class and 

Unluckily, where loans are concerned, success almost 
always depends on the wind which blows from the 
Exchange. Now, all the stock-jobbing princes were 
leagued against the Republic, and, coute que coute, had 
sworn in their heart to destroy it, knowing very well 
that their reign was over, could a Republican Govern- 
ment but once manage to maintain itself, and to bring 
forth its natural results. Between them and the 
Republic, a regime of morality, the combat could be no 
other than a combat of life and death. To pretend to 
win them over was an absolute puerility; to count i 
upon their support, a supreme peril. This is what; 
neither the majority of the Government, nor M. Gamier 
Pages, were willing to comprehend ; so nervous were; 
they at the bare idea of innovation; so completely had 
they been laid hold of by the fantastic hope of being 


able to accomplish a Revolution by means of counter- 
revolutionary elements ! 

M. Gamier Pages, therefore, did not hesitate on the 
9th of March, 1848, to announce a loan of 100 
millions of francs at five per cent, to be taken at par, 
the price of stock being then at 77. This was asking 
the capitalists to give the State 100 francs, for 
what they might, any day, buy at 77. The success of 
so romantic an appeal to the public spirit of the 
moneyed classes, would necessarily depend upon the 
example set by those who give the cue to the financial 
world. But was it to be expected that they would? 
The proposed loan turned out a complete failure ; at 
the end of a month, the amount suhscribed hardly 
amounted to 500,000 francs. 

On the very day of the subscription list being 
opened, M. Garnier Pages got leave from the Pro- 
visional Government to alienate the crown diamonds, 
(the property of the nation, and of which the crown 
had the usufruct;) the bullion and plate attached to 
the royal residences — the lands, woods, and forests — 
making part of the ancient civil list which had now 
lapsed to the state; and, finally, in addition to this, 
a part of the national forests, to an amount not ex- 
ceeding 100 millions of francs. 

Though no previous Government had scrupled to 
touch the public forests, the Provisional Government 
were exceedingly averse to such a step ; first, because 
they thought it hard to sell national property at a 
low figure; and next, because there was a serious 
inconvenience in extending the system of clearing, 



which had already disforested the country, changing 
the rivers to torrents, and exposing the vallies to 
inundations. There was, consequently, an express 
understanding that recourse would be had to this 
measure only in case of extremity; the preamble of 
the decree explained that the measure was not in- 
tended for immediate application ; * and, in point of 
fact, it never was applied. 

All this did not fill the public coffers, and the little 
money we had in hand "ran off," according to the 
strong expression of M. Gamier Pages, "like water 
from an open dam." Every morning the head of the 
pay-office, and the central cashier, used to come to the 
Minister of Finance, saying, " Monsieur le ministre, 
we have not fifteen days' life in us, not twelve, not 
ten." f So that, every hour, every minute, was carrying 
us a step nearer to death. 

And our death, under these circumstances, implied 
the death of all ! 

Among the most inveterate enemies of the Republic, 
there were some not insensible to this; and here is 
a proof : — 

One day at the Luxembourg, I was told M. Dela- 
marre wanted to see me. M. Delamarre was one of 
the best known bankers of Paris ; the founder, unless 
my memory deceives me, of the newspaper La Patine, 
a journal of opinions reactionist to excess. What 

* Un episode de la Revolution, p. 136. Tbe words of the decree afe,'| 
" the Minister of Finance would affect this alienation, should it appear to 
him to be indispensable." 

+ Ibid, page 111. 


could he want of me? I desired him to be shown 
in ; and this was, in substance, what he said to me : 

" There is no need, sir, I should apprise you that I 
am not one of yours, and that the Republic does not 
command my sympathies? Still I feel, that in the 
present crisis, it is every man's interest to sustain 
the Provisional Government. Were it to break down, 
what would be the result ? A universal irruption of 
anarchy, which I shudder to think of. I have there- 
fore taken the liberty of calling upon you to offer a 
suggestion, which, as it seems to me, is of the highest 
importance. The Provisional Government can neither 
save itself nor others, unless it is able to get money, 
and, in order to get it, it must apply to those who have 
it, that is, to the rich. Among my fellow-bankers, 
there are some who view the matter as I do ; others 
so insane as to be incapable of seeing that the ruin 
of the Provisional Government, at this moment, would 
be their own ruin ; these must be forcibly saved from 
destruction, and you only can succeed in effecting this, 
by bringing to bear upon them that dictatorial power 
with which the Revolution has invested you." 

So that, what M. Delamarre advised was a forced 
contribution from those of his own class. I thought, 
and still think, he was sincere. But M. Gamier 
Pages, to whom he addressed the same advice, could 
only see a trap in it, so possessed was he of the desire 
of gaining over to the Republic, by something that 
looked very like an excess of gentleness, those who 
were its declared enemies. 

Some decision, however, bad to be taken, and what 


was it? The voluntary loan had not succeeded; a 
forced loan was not to our taste ; the decree for the sale 
of a certain portion of public property was, at bottom, 
nothing more than an expedient for restoring confidence 
by a grand display of the resources which France had 
at her disposal in case of extreme need. There was 
nothing left, therefore, save direct taxation ; but 
whether this were imposed on the indirect taxes which 
would crush the poorer classes, or on the direct taxes 
which would affect the most numerous body in France, 
that of small peasant proprietors, there could be no 
doubt that it would cause the liepublic to be detested 
by those for whose benefit it had been more especially 

Consequently, there was no possible way left unless 
some method could be found of opening up a new 
path. This was what the Provisional Government was 
pressed to do from all sides ; and, for my part, I did 
not conceal from my colleagues how contradictory 
and fatal in my opinion it was to apply ordinary pro- 
cesses to an extraordinary conjuncture. I will men- 
tion presently what, according to my views, was the 
financial policy which ought to have been adopted : 
but, that it may be justly estimated, I must first state 
some of the gravest characteristics of the crisis. 

On the evening of the 15th of March, M. D'Argout 
came to the Minister of Finance, accompanied by some 
of the sub-governors of the Bank. These gentlemen 
were all in a state of agitation, as was manifest enough 
from the expression of their faces. M. D'Argout said 
that there was a great run on the Bank for specie; 


that the wickets were absolutely besieged by a highly 
excited multitude ; that the unappeasable anxiety of 
the holders of notes had reached its height, and that 
they had penetrated even into the interior passages 
of the establishment ; that the Bank was at the point 
of not having a single sixpence to give in exchange 
for its paper. " We have not more/' he finished by 
saying, " than 63 millions of francs in our branches in 
the departments, whither the panic will soon spread; 
here we have 59 millions "of francs, of which we owe 45 
millions to Government, that has urgent need of it, 
and must have it to pay the army, the national work- 
shops, and other departments of the public service. 
It is all over with us ! " * 

In fact, from the 24th of February to the 15th of 
March, the specie in the Bank had decreased from 140 
millions of francs to 59 millions, out of which 45 millions 
were due to the Government; so that, to meet 264 
millions of notes in circulation, and 81 millions of other 
engagements, the Bank had no more than 63 millions 
in its provincial branches, and 14 millions in Paris ! 

It may be imagined how completely the majority of 
the Provisional Government was stupified at this intel- 
ligence. Should the bank fall, good-bye to the old 
financial system of which it was the buttress. And 
then, who could calculate the immensity of the disaster 
that must follow? What would become, — when once 
deprived of the possibility of getting discounts, — of the 
merchants and manufacturers who were yet upon their 

* We are indebted to M. Gamier Pages for this statement. Un 4pi 
de la Revolution de 1848, p. 103. 


legs ? The winding-up of the Bank, — must it not have 
been the death blow of credit ? 

Quite certain it is that to have suffered it to fall, 
without replacing it by planting by its side an institu- 
tion of superior credit, would have been a great disaster ; 
but in order to create such an institution, it was neces- 
sary to take advantage of the opportunity, and therein 
lay the salvation of the Revolution. 

Here, in a few words, were my ideas on the subject. 

If we take the trouble of investigating the causes of 
commercial crises, and of the disasters they give rise to, 
we shall find that a very leading one lies in the fact of 
credit being exclusively supplied by individuals or by 
establishments such as banks, which are nothing more 
than a collection of individuals. In fact, when the 
horizon begins to be overcast, when the premonitory 
signs of social disturbance make themselves visible, 
and, above all, when this disturbance exhibits itself by 
a sudden convulsion, it is quite natural that individual 
capitalists, trembling at the idea of losing their money, 
should cut short their discounts. And what happens 
then ? The impossibility of getting discounts brings 
on stoppages ; he who does not receive what is due to 
him, is compelled to refuse to pay what he owes; 
failures produce failures ; catastrophes are generated 
by catastrophes. Peril everywhere; ruin threatened 
on all sides. 

When, on the contrary, it is the State that supplies 
the means of credit, should a crisis occur, then far from 
having an interest in withholding these means, the 
State is, on the contrary, interested in imparting to them 


greater activity, for its special object is not to augment 
or to save a capital proper to itself, but to remove 
impediments to the course of business, in order that the 
levying of taxes should not be hampered ; that the 
fortune of all should not be jeopardised, and that the 
blood should not congeal in the veins of the social body. 
On the morrow of a revolution, is there any one who 
has less need of eating, drinking, of being clothed — less 
need, in fact, of living than before ? And does not 
every man know as well the day after a revolution as 
the day before, that wherever labour is at an end, there 
life must soon be at an end too ? Whence then, at 
such moments, comes the stagnation of business ? 
From this, that individuals, possessors of credit, take 
fright and hasten to contract it. In other Avords, they 
act and have an interest in acting, under the circum- 
stances, in a way precisely the reverse of that in which 
the State, were it the arbiter of credit, must of necessity 

Taking my stand on these principles, the validity of 
which was but too clearly proved by the spectacle before 
my eyes, at a moment when everything round the 
Provisional Government seemed conspiring to destroy 
confidence, while they alone were doing their very best 
to sustain it, I wished this critical opportunity should 
be taken advantage of; not to suppress every establish- 
ment of private credit, far from it ; but to create by 
their side a National establishment of credit, indepen- 
dent of the Treasury, and doing, for the profit of all, 
precisely what the Bank of France is empowered to do 
for the profit of a small number of shareholders. In 


this way, the privilege of coining money by the issue of 
notes doing the work of specie, would have reverted to 
the State, which ought never to have deprived itself of 
it, for the benefit of a company of individuals. For it 
is surprising that the circulating medium — which is the 
hearts-blood of trade and commerce, and which, as 
such, has so essential a relation to the whole public — 
should be suffered to depend upon private interests. 

And when I talk of coining money, I do not exagge- 
rate. What, indeed, is the nature of the operation of 
banks of issue ? Take the Bank of France. A man 
brings a bill of exchange or other security, realisable at 
a given date, for which he gets notes, issued by the Bank 
on the guarantee of these securities, and possessing the 
faculty of circulating as specie — the consideration to 
the Bank being what is known as discount. 

The issue of bank notes is then, to the letter, the 
converting into money, or the monetisation, of a deposited 
pledge. Banks of issue make paper money with paper, 
just to all intents and purposes as gold coin is made 
with gold. But is this one of those privileges which 
without inconvenience and without peril can be aban- 
doned to individuals ? 

This is all the more strange, because if wc look into 
the matter a little closely, we shall find that the enor- 
mous profits whicli are derived from this privilege by 
those on whom they are conferred, are the recompence, 
not for services rendered through the agency of their 
own credit only, but chiefly for services rendered by 
them through the agency of public credit. 

That it is so, is proved beyond question by the very 


mechanism of banks. Everybody must be well aware 
that the specie in their vaults never completely covers 
the value of their notes in circulation. Regulating 
their discounts by the amount of good commercial 
bills that are brought to them, and not by the quantity 
of specie at their disposal, they constantly issue more 
notes than are convertible into cash. Now, these 
surplus notes produce interest to the bank, and form a 
considerable part of its profits, though resting on no 
metallic base whatever. How does this happen ? How 
is it that they are accepted, and circulate as money ? 
It is because the public has confidence in the soundness 
of that commercial paper which is their warranty. 
They represent, therefore, abstract public credit, and 
that only. What reason was there then why the Bank 
of France should have continued to be a private insti- 
tution? and why a handful of oligarchs should be 
permitted to levy an enormous tax on the currency, 
as the price of a service which society could, just as 
well perform for itself, by organising a National Bank, 
completely independent of the executive, and subject to 
the direct control of the legislature ? 

By this means, not only would society, as a whole, 
reap the immense profits which are now concentrated 
in a few hands ; but the currency would cease to be 
the vassal of private speculation, at all times inevitably 
selfish. The directors of a National Bank being public 
officers, and having no interest in raising discounts, 
would rather be inclined to keep them down as much 
as possible. The consequence would be the lowering 
of the interest of money in all commercial transactions 


— an incalculable advantage to trade, commerce, and 

But possibly it will be asked, bow it could bave 
been practicable to institute a National Bank, in 
February 1S4S, wben tbe Provisional Government was 
in the greatest possible poverty ? Where could they 
have found the amount of specie requisite to form the 
reserve or cash in hand of the Bank to be created ? 
Such a question takes evidently for granted that a bank 
cannot exist without a reserve ; now, this opinion, 
generally received though it be, appears to me void of 

What are the reasons which the Bank of France has 
always put forth to show the necessity for its reserve ? 
Two only : the security given to the holders of the notes 
in circulation against the eventual losses of the Bank 
on the one hand ; and, on the other, that their notes 
will be, at all times, convertible into specie. 

In the first place, however, the supposed chances of 
loss are but an imaginary danger put forward to fascinate 
the eyes of the public. What losses has the Bank of 
France incurred during the forty years of its existence ? 
None. So far from it, that it has always divided 
amongst its shareholders profits, not less regular and 
certain than considerable. The following figures speak 
for themselves. The shares of the Bank of France at par 
are worth 1000 francs. Now, on the 1st of Februaiy, 
1848, they had reached 3190 francs, and, in 185G, they 
exceeded 4000 francs. Even at the height of the 
Revolution of February, that is to say, the 1st of March, 
1848, they were at 2400 francs, and at the very moment 


when, his face pale, his heart beating, M. d'Argout ran 
to the Minister of Finance saying, " It is all over with 
us ! " the Bank shares (at this moment of its last agony), 
were still 1300 francs, that is above par. 

In a word, it is undeniable that the Bank of France, 
from the first hour of its existence, has been playing 
a sure game. Never lending upon paper without three 
good and perfectly secure indorsements, and for a term 
not exceeding ninety days, it has never run any kind 
of risk ; nor do we see why a National Bank should 
run any, if subject to the same prudential restraints, 
and never lending but on such ample security. 

As to the pretending that bank notes owe their 
capacity of circulating to the certainty which the 
holders have, that when they please they can go to the 
Bank and exchange them for gold, nothing cau be 
more erroneous ; and the proof is that the Bank of 
France having been empowered to suspend cash pay- 
ments, and its notes, as we shall presently see, having 
been made a legal tender, this extraordinary step, far 
from extinguishing confidence, revived it, and to such a 
point, that the public very soon began to prefer notes 
to gold ! Nay, they were occasionally at a premium ! 
Can any fact be more decisive than this ? 

In truth, the real guarantee of bank notes, is not 
the reserve, it is the whole amount of good commercial 
paper, or secure deposits, against which the notes have 
been exchanged. 

A National Bank, therefore, without a reserve was 
possible during the Revolution of 1848. 

Only in this case, two conditions must have been 



rigorously observed, in order to avoid the depreciation 
that would be sure to be the consequence of over 
issue ; first, that the National Bank should only issue 
notes of real value resting upon indisputable security ; 
secondly, that it should be obliged to accept, and with- 
draw from circulation, the notes returned to it, paying 
the holders an interest equal to the price of issue. In 
this way, it is clear that all notes not required would 
have found their way back again to the Bank, and that 
no more notes would have remained in circulation than 
were in due proportion to the amount of commercial 

Starting from this point, my plan was as follows : 

To institute a National Bank with branches in each 

To form a council consisting of persons chosen by 
municipal bodies, chambers of commerce, and syndics 
of trade companies, whose duty would be to inquire 
into the solvency of borrowers, and to offer such local 
advice as they might think expedient. 

To make this Bank independent of the executive, 
and to place it under the direct control of the legislature. 

To make its notes a legal tender, and to base them 
on any sort of good securities. 

To oblige it to receive and to withdraw from circula- 
tion such superabundant notes as were no longer re- 
quired by commercial wants, the holders of these notes 
being entitled, on returning them to the Bank, to an 
interest equal to the discount originally paid upon them. 

To establish depots, in which every producer would 
be allowed to deposit his produce, receiving in exchange 


a warrant which would constitute a right to the property 
deposited, capable therefore of serving the purposes of 

To empower the National Bank to lend money upon 
these warrants. 

To transfer the whole amount of banking profits to a 
labour fund, having for its object to advance money to 
the united co-operative associations. 

Is it necessary to dwell upon the advantages of this 

The National Bank having no reason to keep 
discounts high, and being able to lend with advantage 
on the lowest practicable terms, the interest of money 
required for all commercial operations would have been 
necessarily lowered ; the largest institution of credit 
in a country being the standard by which all holders 
of capital and money-lenders are obliged to regulate 
their transactions. 

By the depots and the transmutations of produce into 
warrants, a considerable amount of produce, which was 
in some sort inert, would have acquired a negotiable 
value and given an impulse to the circulation. 

The profits from discounts passing from the hands 
of a few privileged persons into those of the State, it 
could have used them for the purpose of enabling the 
workmen to co-operate, and so make the price of the 
services rendered to some, subservient to the progres- 
sive emancipation of others. 

Such a Bank, it is obvious, could have come to the 
assistance of the Provisional Government, and help it 
to overcome the crisis. 


But these views were summarily disposed of by the 
fanaticism of routine. M. Gamier Pages, all whose 
suggestions were blindly adopted by the majority of the 
Council, thought of nothing else than the safety of the 
Bank; and save it he did effectually, by prevailing on 
the Provisional Government to constitute its notes a 
legal tender. 

Then followed the extraordinary phenomenon I have 
just mentioned; the notes, after a very slight and 
almost inappreciable fail, returned to par, and, in a 
little while, had the preference over coin ; while the 
Bank shares rose immediately from 1300 francs to 
1500 francs. 

If then M. Garnier Pages had nothing else in view 
than how to save an impolitic institution, the key- 
stone of the system supported by all the enemies of the 
Republic, he could not have acted with more vigour 
and success. Alas ! it was a victory of Pyrrhus. It 
proved that, amid the ruins of private credit, public 
credit might preserve the greatest influence ; but in- 
stead of permitting this influence to operate, by means 
of a National Bank, through its natural organ, the 
State, M. Garnier Pages used it only to reanimate a 
moneyed oligarchy bent on never allying itself with 
the Republic. 

So little was the convertibility of bank notes a con- 
dition indispensable to their circulation, that their 
existence as legal tender, which began in March, con- 
tinued till the 6th of August 1850, without in the 
least affecting their value ! What pretence is there 
then for doubting that this compulsory circulation 


could not have been turned to account in favour of a 
new, and really Republican institution, and that a 
National Bank could not have been established, pro- 
visionally to say the least of it, without a reserve ? 

It has been alleged that the Bank of France was not 
without some show of gratitude to the Provisional 
Government, since in return for the signal service 
which had been rendered it, on the 21st of March, it 
lent the Government 50 millions of francs. That is 
true ; but what was this sum compared with the wants 
of the moment, and in presence of a Republic which 
had to be consolidated ? The forests and other National 
property of the market value of 800 million francs, 
bringing in a revenue of from 30 millions to 35 millions, 
were surely a perfectly good and available security on 
which a National Bank could without peril have lent to 
the State 600 millions of francs in notes, which would 
have enabled it to surmount the crisis. The Bank of 
France once safe, was it able to furnish the Government 
with the means of avoiding new taxes, a consideration of 
the very first importance to the Republic ? No : since 
on the very day of its being saved, M. Gamier Pages 
was compelled to obtain leave from the Provisional 
Government to impose the fatal, and never to be for- 
gotten tax of 45 centimes, which ruined the Repub- 
lican Government in the estimation of the peasants. 

The dilemma was a terribly difficult one ; but where 
was the possibility of escaping from it, when once the 
majority of the Government had made up their minds 
to attempt nothing new ? 

On March 16th, M. Garnier Pages called a meeting of 


the Council at the Hotel of the Minister of Finance ; 
and resting on the precedent set by Napoleon, Louis 
XVIII., Louis Philippe, all of whom in succession had 
recourse to an increase extraordinary of the land-tax, 
he proposed to increase the direct taxes by an addi- 
tional tax of 45 centimes in every franc, which he 
calculated would produce 190 millions of francs. 

But what was likely to be the effect of such 
proposal ? What clamour was not to be expected from 
that immense throng of little peasant proprietors, to 
whom that is the best government which asks of them 
least, and who never know the State, save in the 
person of the tax-gatherer? What expectation was 
there that the poor rural population would have any 
love for the Republic, thus announcing its existence 
by an additional tax upon property ? And what arms 
would it not put into the hands of the re-actionist 
party ? 

It would have been far better, in spite of all its 
inconvenience, to have framed a tax upon revenue, 
which, by adopting the English mode of levying it, 
might have been divested of those complicated pro- 
cesses that frightened the Minister of Finance, 
likely to cause too much delay, and as being of 
inquisitorial character justly objectionable. 

Be this as it may, the additional property-tax one 
determined on, it would at least have been expedient/^ 
in order to prevent pressure upon the smaller projf 
prietors, to fix a minimum below which it should nof 
operate ; at the risk of course of making the burder 
heavier, if necessary, upon those whose backs were broad 1 



enough to bear it. This limitation, besides being strictly 
just, would, as an act of policy, have been thoroughly 
appreciated. The peasants would have clapped their 
hands with joy ; and this alone would have prevented 
the large proprietors from complaining ; while the 
opposite course, by causing dissatisfaction to the 
former, gave free play to the murmurs of the latter, 
and exposed us to the risk of having all the world 
against us. 

Therefore it was, M. Ledru Rollin and myself pro- 
posed that a minimum should be clearly fixed by the 
decree itself. But M. Gamier Pages opposed this, 
saying, that the only thing we had to do was to enjoin 
the tax-gatherers to take into consideration the cir- 
cumstances of each tax-payer, and to remit either 
partially, or entirely, the tax, "in the case of all 
persons whom, in their opinion, had not the means of 
paying it." On my persisting in my view, he said to 
me, " You know nothing of the rural districts." 
Whereupon, old Dupont (de l'Eure), though in the 
habit of voting with Gamier Pages, exclaimed with 
much animation, "But at all events I know them, 
having lived a long while in them ; and I know too, 
if there be one who more than another will be spared 
in these cases, it will be the rich man, because he has 
influence, and not the poor man who has none." 

In spite of the weight thus thrown into the balance 
by the remark of this noble-minded and excellent 
old man, the Minister's proposal passed precisely in 
the form in which he had framed it. 

It was a political fault of the gravest kind, as 

s 2 


the consequences too clearly proved. In vain did 
M. Gamier Pages, on the 18th of March, address a 
letter to the Government officers, authorising them 
to excuse every one from paying the tax, who was 
notoriously not in a position to do so ; * in vain did 
the same circular require the mayors, assisted by the 
tax-collectors, to make out a list of those tax-payers 
to whom, after due consideration of their position 
and of the imperious necessities of the treasury, it 
would be possible to let off for either the whole, or a 
part of their share of the tax ; j* these public injunc- 
tions, repeated on the 5th of April, again on the 25th 
of April, testified the kind intentions of the Minister, 
but had the bad effect of leaving at the mercy of local 
authorities, that is to say, to chance or caprice, a point 
which, from the very first, ought to have been deter- 
mined with the greatest precision, clearness, and 

What was the result? that these ministerial injunc 
tions were neither faithfully complied with by those 
to whom they were addressed, nor probably appreciated 
by those they were intended to protect. But the 
factions opposed to the Republic, employed with fatal 
skill the weapon thus thrust into their hands ; thei 
emissaries scoured the country, inciting the peasan 
against the Republic, which had only risen up, the 
said, to crush them with taxation ; the Royalists se< 
themselves at work to curse in chorus a tax impose^ 
for the purpose of filling up the abyss which the 

* Un episode de la Revolution de 1848, par M. Gamier Pages. 
t Ibid. 


monarchy had caused, and of discharging the debts 
of Royalty. M. Gamier Pages, vilified and calumniated 
by the very persons whose ruin he had prevented, 
became, under the name of " Uhommc aux 45 cen- 
times" the target for every species of venomous attack. 
The mischief which the Provisional Government had 
averted, was forgotten; no account was taken of the good 
they did, or wished to do; no one chose to remember 
that they had abolished the most odious of all taxes, 
the tax upon salt, thus giving up, for the relief of the 
poor, a revenue of 70 millions a-year. In a word, the 
tax of 45 centimes, though levied for the profit of 
succeeding governments and by them, was distastrous 
only to us and to the Republic. 

But what History will say is this: That if the Pro- 
visional Government were betrayed by the excessive 
timidity of the majority of them, into measures 
incompatible with the interests of the Republic they 
represented, there was at all events nothing personal, 
nothing selfish in their faults. Unlike others, they 
did not make use of the money of the people to gorge 
the accomplices of a usurpation; to fatten courtiers and 
lacqueys ; to surround themselves with insolent pomp ; 
to stimulate stock-jobbing ; to inoculate the nation 
with a diseased love of gain, by setting it the example 
of cupidity. They did not extort from the country 
a voracious civil list to be spent, now on the foolery 
of a court dress, now on the remuneration of those 
base services which Liberty never requires. They did 
not swell their revenues with the spoils of the family 
of Orleans. They had no need of palaces in the city, 


of palaces in the country, of sumptuous equipages, 
splendid stables, all maintained at the cost of the 
people; nor were they to be seen eating and drinking, 
in a few hours, at court festivals, the earnings of 
thousands of families. 

In spite of the impudent calumnies, on which this 
book will do justice — and which, moreover, have been 
sometime disproved — I will show by the evidence of 
the calumniators themselves, that the members of the 
Provisional Government took no thought of money, 
save as a provision for the wants of the country ; that 
those of them who were poor, remained poor ; that 
those of them who were rich when they accepted 
office, were less rich when they left it; and I must do 
M. Gamier Pages the justice, — I who more than any 
one lamented his financial policy — to say, that if his 
errors proceeded from an unenlightened and excessive 
fear of all innovation, they proceeded also from an 
honourable feeling — the desire of fulfilling all engage- 
ments entered into, without distinction of friend or foe 
— and from the firm determination in which we all 
shared, to save the Republic and France the disgrace 
of a bankruptcy, which, at that time, was advised by 
M. Fould, now a minister of Louis Bonaparte.* 

* M. Ledru Rollin subsequently charged M. Fould with doing this, from 
the very tribune of the National Assembly. 




The Revolution went on its way. 

Its ascent to power was signalised in the department 
of public justice entrusted to M. Cremieux, by acts 
which manifested profound respect for human dignity, 
and a sensitive appreciation of the rights of man. 

The abrogation of the famous laws of September, 
against the press ; the extension given to the safeguard 
of the jury ; the suppression of the pillory, that inhu- 
man and degrading aggravation of a penal sentence, 
useless as it affects the hardened culprit, and tending 
to stifle repentance under the weight of infamy in any 
heart not yet spoilt beyond redemption; the facilities 
afforded to the reformation of criminals ; the abolition 
of political oaths, scandalous when broken, and instru- 
ments of tyranny when kept inviolable ; the lessening 
of law charges ; the abolition of imprisonment for debt ; 
new modes of naturalisation accorded to foreigners ; * 
— such were the acts which did honour to the adminis- 
tration of M. Cremieux. 

Among the reforms exacted by republican ideas, 

* All these decrees are to be found in the Moniteur, the preambles of 
which explain their purpose and show the feeling which prompted them. 


which in this instance as in some others, are in close 
conformity with English ideas, the most urgent was 
that of the magistracy, composed almost exclusively 
of men who, under Louis Philippe, owed their appoint- 
ment or their promotions solely to the system of 
corruption so actively resorted to at that time. Never 
had the magistracy exhibited a more servile subjection 
to political influence than under Louis Philippe ; never 
had the administration of justice been so subservient 
to party spirit. The principle of irremovability which 
obtained in magisterial appointments, and which was 
adopted, as was said, to render magistrates indepen- 
dent of the executive, had only served to make their 
servility more conspicuous; and it would have been 
absurd in a Republic, where everything has to un- 
dergo the examination and judgment of the nation, 
to admit that a judge was not to be stripped of his 
functions, however ill he discharged them. The sup- 
pression of this exorbitant immunity was so much 
the more necessary, as it was dangerous to place 
above all control a body of public functionaries 
holding in their hands the lives and fortunes of the 

It was wisely done of the Provisional Government 
then, to enact a power of revoking the appointments 
of magistrates.* It was opening the door to a re- 
organisation of the magistracy. But the Minister of 
Justice did not avail himself of this power : in the first 
place, because it would have required a considerable 

* Monitcur, 1 3th of April, 1845. 


reconstruction, for whicli there was no time ; and next, 
because a task of this kind was not suited to M. 
Cremieux, a learned jurisconsult, a great criminal 
lawyer, an orator full of grace and vivacity, and cer- 
tainly one of the most brilliant pleaders of the Paris 
bar, but a man of extreme benevolence, and of too easy 
a nature to strike a decisive blow. 

Lord Normanby, in his book, has a good deal attacked 
M. Cremieux, and with invariable injustice. It is false, 
for instance, that M. Cremieux, on the 24th of Febru- 
ary, got himself appointed a member of the Provisional 
Government by the stealthy insertion of his name in the 
list. I have already mentioned that Lord Normanby, 
with inexcusable ignorance, represents M. Cremieux as 
reading out this list, while every soul in Paris knew 
that it was read by M. Ledru Rollin." Consequently, 
M. Cremieux could not have foisted in his name 
amongst those of the other persons whose names were 
then proclaimed. More than this, I have it from M. 
Ledru Rollin, that M. Cremieux's name Avas one of 
\ those which the bulk of the people in the " Palais 
Bourbon" received with the most warmth, while under 
the influence of a lively narrative in which M. 
Cremieux, already known as a , liberal advocate, had 
been stating how he had helped the fugitive king into 
his carriage. 

In the Council, M. Cremieux sided with the majority; 
but, being untrammelled by foregone conclusions, and 
open to conviction, it often happened that he voted with 

See the first chapter of this work. 


us ; and it can properly be said that he served as a 
connecting link between the two opinions that divided 
the Council. A man yielding easily to impulse and 
warm expression of feeling, he might fail in firmness 
sometimes, in generosity never. 

The spirit of the Revolution insinuated itself where 
it seemed much more difficult for it to penetrate, that 
is to say, into the War-Office and Admiralty. 

On the 14th of February, one M. Dubourg, who, in 
1830, had organised the " Volontaires de la Charte" 
having suggested the expediency of creating a corps to 
be composed of the combatants of February, M. de 
Lamartine seized on this idea, and framed it into a 
decree. Immediately afterwards enlistment lists were 
opened in the different mayoralties, for the formation of 
a militia, to be called " Garde Mobile" to the number 
of 20,000 men. The result was, that all the martial 
children of the faubourgs rushed to the mayoralties, 
attracted much less by the unusual pay of one franc 
and a-half, than by love of movement, by military 
instinct, and the charm of the uniform. Placed under 
the command of General Duvivier, a man of very 
ardent and broad intelligence, combining the soldier's 
courage with the innovator's daring, the Garde Mobile 
would have constituted a really Republican force, had 
we had time properly to organise them ; but, through 
a lamentable combination of circumstances, they fell, 
after the Provisional Government had retired from 
office, into the hands of the enemies of the Republic, 
who contrived, as will be presently seen, to turn them 
into destroyers of their own class and their own cause. 


General Subervie having resigned the office of 
Minister of War, — confided to him in the first instance, 
but which his great age did not permit him to dis- 
charge with sufficient activity, — and his place being 
offered to General Cavaignac, then Governor of Alge- 
ria, M. Arago provisionally filled it. He was already 
charged with the ministry of Marine. This double 
burden was not, indeed, too much for so powerful au 
intellect. Only, the boldness of his political views was 
not commensurate with his eminent qualities as a man 
and a savant. Whence his hesitation in accomplishing, 
as a minister of marine, one of those acts which most 
redounded to the credit of the Provisional Government. 
Yielding to the importunities of the West Indian 
planters who were in Paris, he had, on the 26th of 
February, forwarded a despatch to the Colonial Go- 
vernors, which had the air of putting off, though for 
no very long time, the settlement of the abolition ques- 
tion. The arrival in Paris of M. Schcelcher brought 
the affair to an immediate issue. 

M. Schcelcher, now an exile in England,* had then 
just returned from Senegal, where he had gone to 
examine into the condition of the slaves, and to pursue 
the noble investigation which had been the business of 
his life. Never, perhaps, did any man exhibit so 
remarkable a combination of the habits of a man of 
the world, with the austere morality of a philosopher 
and philanthropist ; a passion for art, with the practice 
of stoical virtue ; a sensitive feeling of his own personal 

* The same who has just published the Life of Handel. 


dignity, with a scrupulous appreciation of what is due 
to others ; a taste for the softer elegancies and refine- 
ments of life, with a rigidity of principle which causes 
him to shrink from any compromise, however par- 
donable or slight. Giving himself entirely up to his 
reverence for justice and right, M. Schcelcher was to 
France, as respects the blacks, what Wilberforce was 
to England. On the breaking out of the Revolution 
of February, he was prepared to enter into the 
question of emancipation, qualified by his inquiries 
and travels, in which he shrank from no expense, 
fatigue, or danger. Scarcely arrived in Paris, he runs 
to M. Arago, speaks to his feelings, urges, overcomes 
him ; and, on the 4th of March, appears a decree ap- 
pointing a special commission, with instructions to 
frame an Act for the emancipation of the slaves. The 
object of this Act was thus simply expressed, " Con- 
sidering that no part of the soil of France can any 
longer tolerate slaves on its surface," &c. * 

The commission, consisting of MM. Schcelcher, 
Perrinon, Gatine, Mestro, and Gaumont, set to work ; 
and after about four-and-thirty meetings, prepared an 
Act for the abolition of slavery, on condition that a 
fair indemnity should be paid to the slave-proprietors. 

This Act was presented to the Provisional Govern- 
ment, on the 27th of April, and signed by us with an 
emotion like that which had affected us when we 
abolished capital punishment. It was, under another 
form, the consecration of this great principle, the in- 

* Monileur, 4th March, 1843. 

M. CARNOT. 269 

violability of human life. For, not to belong to one- 
self is to vegetate, not to live. 

It is also due to the exertions of M. Schcelcher, that 
the Provisional Government suppressed flogging in the 
navy, regarding such a punishment as an insult to 
human nature, and its suppression as a means of in- 
spiring the sailor with an increased sense of honour 
and self-repect. 

The interests of the Republic were zealously seconded 
in the department of Public Instruction and Worship, 
by M. Carnot, son of that celebrated member of the 
Committee of Public Safety, who " organised victory." 
Supported by two superior men, MM. Jean Reynaud, 
and Edouard Charton, M. Carnot formed a high com- 
mission of scientific and literary inquiry, for examin- 
ing such new questions as Republicanism might give 
rise to ; he erected a special school for the instruc- 
tion of persons seeking employment in public offices; 
and being thoroughly convinced that the ignorance 
of the people is the source both of their crimes and 
wretchedness, he occupied himself with laying the ground- 
work of a universal and gratuitous system of education. 

And yet, strangely enough, it is this man whom 
the Royalists have attempted to represent to Europe 
as the systematic enemy of enlightenment, as the 
apostle of ignorance ! And why ? Because, like 
all men of sense, he thought it was given to a very 
few minds, and those of a high order only, v to be able 
to make laws ; that in an assembly of 900 persons, it 
is absurd to expect we shall find a Lycurgus in each 
of them ; that in such an assembly, smartness, the rage 


of shining, and pretensions resting on empty talent or 
superficial acquirements, are more mischievous than 
useful ; and consequently, that sound judgment, a 
practical acquaintance with the matter which is the 
subject of legislation, unblemished integrity, and a 
sincere love of one's kind, are, to speak generally, 
sufficient grounds for entitling a man to the suffrages 
of his fellow-citizens. The circular of M. Carnot, or 
to speak more correctly, the phrase of the circular, 
which caused so much hubbub among the Royalists, 
contained two or three words which had not been 
sufficiently weighed ; but, how excessive must have 
been the bad faith, which could travesty into a pane- 
geric upon ignorance, a passage such as follows, the 
only one in the circular which was the object of attack ! — 
"The greatest mistake, against which the rural 
population must be warned, is to suppose that to be 
qualified for a representative it is necessary either to 
have education or fortune. It is obvious that an honest 
peasant, with good sense and experience, will represent 
his class infinitely better in the Assembly than a rich 
and lettered citizen, unacquainted with the habits of 
country life or swayed by interests different from those 
of the peasantry. As to fortune, the allowance made 
to each member would be sufficient for the poorest. 
We must not forget that, in a great assembly like that 
which is about to meet, the greatest part of the 
members must be in the position of jurymen. It is for 
them to decide — ay, or no — whether the judgment of 
the elite, the pick of the members, be good or bad." * 

* Circular to the Head-masters of Schools, Mouitcur, 7th March, 1848. 


The wording of this passage might have been happier, 
I acknowledge ; nor should the word education have 
been used, without being denned ; but could it possibly 
imply, as the enemies of the Republic did not blush to 
assert, that the Minister of Public Instruction was the 
preacher of ignorance? and that according to him, a 
first condition for making good laws was not knowing 
how to read? What M. Caraot meant to say was 
manifestly this, That we should not give refined manners 
the precedency over practical knowledge, empty college 
jargon over habits of business, cleverness over good 
sense, and pounds sterling over patriotism. Now, this 
was not only very Republican, but very reasonable. 
Up to this time the people had never been represented ; 
surely it was quite natural that, having obtained the 
franchise, they should use it to select occasionally one 
of their own class to represent them. This is precisely 
what they did, and did well too. By whom, in the 
Assembly, were their interests supported with greater 
zeal, more elevated feeling, or greater practical know- 
ledge than by M. Nadaud, a simple mason ? 

Where M. Carnot committed the mistake was his 
over scrupulous policy in the education question with 
respect to the Jesuits, who were in possession of the 
ground, and maintaining a ruinous competition with 
private schoolmasters, owing to the clergy's endowment 
by the State. But how easy was it at that time for the 
Minister of Public Worship and Instruction to fall into 
the error ? The Church, at that time was so humble, 
so fawning ! Her welcome to the Republic was so 
fervent ! I myself saw, with my own eyes, a procession 


of 600 priests marching to the Hotel de Ville, and 
saluting the Provisional Government with bursts of 
enthusiasm, almost incredible. I have heard them, too, 
shouting out their benedictions upon us. Yes, these same 
priests who, the day after the 2nd of December, went 
and sprinkled their holy water over perjury and mas- 
sacre, saying mass in the open air, their feet in blood, I 
have myself seen, under the Provisional Government, 
rushing wherever a tree of liberty was to be planted, 
and, their hands stretched forth, their eyes raised to 
heaven, imploring God to make the Republic immortal. 

I now come to that department which was the most 
important and the most assailed, the Ministere de 
Tlnterieur, or Home Department. There M. Ledru 
Rollin was ; and, in many respects, he was excellently 
suited to the duty he had to discharge, which was 
that of revolutionary propagandised . A mind quick 
and penetrating, political energy tempered b} r frank 
and engaging manners, great ardour of purpose, in- 
tegrity, a vehement desire to secure the triumph of the 
Republic, together with an oratorical talent of the 
highest order; — such were the qualities which M. Ledru 
Rollin brought to the accomplishment of his mission ; 
and these qualities were heightened in him by a hand- 
some face, a portly figure, and by I know not what 
magnetic fluid which seemed, when he spoke, to flow 
from his gestures. 

Assuredly, all this was much, and yet not enough, so 
exacting were the wants of the moment. With the 
power of carrying men along with him, the Minister 
of the Interior should have combined that of restraining 


them ; lie should have had that force of character 
which enables a man to resist the pressure of his 
partisans, and the solicitations of his friends. But 
such a force of character could hardly be expected in 
M. Ledru Rollin, a really artistic nature, confiding, 
generous, capable of nobly confronting an enemy, 
but not of offending a friend, and for this very 
reason, accessible to the influence of those about 
him, whose antipathies were not always either just 
or enlightened. 

It must also be observed that, to M. Ledru Rollin the 
Revolution was much more a thing to be recovered than 
to be continued and developed in a scientific manner. 
Haunted by the great reminiscences of the past, his 
ardent imagination panted for the power of transporting 
it bodily into the future, not^allowing for the intellec- 
tual progress which has since been made — a progress 
whose nature he had not sufficiently studied, and 
which fretted his impatience as though it were an 
obstacle in his way. It is superfluous to say that 
those of his friends who had an interest in separating 
him from the Socialists, made it a point to stimulate 
this feeling, never talking anything to him but Jaco- 
binism, and missing no opportunity to compare him to 

However this may be, M. Ledru Rollin gave himself 
up to his duties with a zeal and courage which will be 
remembered, when the insults hurled at him in libels 
like that of Lord Normanby shall have been long 
forgotten. How is it possible for any one who knows 
M. Ledru Rollin to read, without indignation, the 


following passage : " Ledru Rollin is a man of no 
great capacity, and not undoubted moral courage, but 
a regular mob orator, of ruined fortune, who is desirous, 
as long as he can, to maintain his present power, and 
quite bold enough to attempt anything, provided he 
feels himself backed by a multitude."* 

If, before hazarding these odious insinuations, his 
lordship had taken the trouble to make himself master 
of the facts, as the simplest notions of justice pre- 
scribed to him, he would have known that, far from 
being a man of ruined fortune, M. Ledru Rollin was 
rich when the Revolution broke out, that he had 
nothing to gain from it in a purely personal point of 
view, but, on the contrary, had everything to loose ; and 
that any idea of the derangement which so violent a 
political crisis might bring down upon his affairs, never 
induced him to hesitate a single instant. Lord Nor- 
manby is a romance writer ; but I submit to him that | 
the evidence, or the want of evidence, which is suffi- 
cient for a novel, is not sufficient for an historical work. 
For instance, his lordship describes with the mosti 
satisfied air in the world,t but taking good care not to; 
mention his authorities, the following burlesque scene : 
" M. Ledru Rollin said to the majority of government, 
' Do you know that your popularity is nothing, com- 
pared to mine ? I have but to open that window, am 
call upon the people, and you would every one of yoi 
be turned into the street. Do you wish me to try ? 

* " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 228. 
t Ibid. p. 239. 


rising and moving towards the window beneath which 
there were assembled crowds. M. Gamier Pages, who 
is a man of great nerve, walked up to him, drew a 
pistol from his pocket, placed it at Ledru Rollings 
breast, and said, ' If you make one step towards the 
window, it shall be your last ! ' Ledru Rollin looked 
daggers, paused a moment, and sat down again/' 

Great must have been the astonishment of M. 
Garnier Pages, and of M. Ledru Rollin, the first time 
these lines met their eyes, if so be they have done his 
lordship's book the honour of reading it. For myself, 
having attended the meetings of the Council, while the 
Provisional Government lasted, with the greatest punc- 
tuality, I declare, not only that I never witnessed any- 
thing like it, but that neither then nor since have I ever 
heard a whisper of anything like it having happened ; 
and I can assure Lord Normanby that the members of 
the Provisional Government, even when their disputes 
ran highest, never failed in that mutual respect which 
is usual among gentlemen. As to representing us as 
bravoes, going to the Council with pistols in our 
pockets, ready to blow out each other's brains, this is 
simply ridiculous ; and Lord Normanby, in accepting 
such tittle-tattle, has not perceived, which is rather 
awkward for a diplomatist, that some one or other has 
made a dupe of him. 

I resume my narrative. In his capacity of Minister 
of the Interior, it was M. Ledru Rollin's duty to 
\ttend to the administration of the departments. He 
ost no time in despatching commissioners to them; 
he re-appointment of public officers being of all 

T 2 


measures that which was most indispensable and 
urgent. For what Government ever consented to have 
its enemies selected as its agents ? Would any folly 
have been comparable with that of suffering the 
destinies of the Republic to be tossed about in the 
hands of men known for their hatred to it, and the 
chief motive for whose promotion, under Louis Philippe, 
was their notorious devotion to monarchy ? Ah ! if 
the Provisional Government can be justly reproached 
with one thing beyond all others, it is for having, on 
the contrary, been too much disposed to hold out their 
hand to hostile parties ; for having put too much con- 
fidence in the protestations of new converts ; for having 
too easily yielded to a chivalrous desire of winning 
them over ! 

In despatching these commissioners, M. Ledru 
Rollin submitted to a necessity— all the more un- 
avoidable, because, on the first news of the Revolution, 
nearly all the Prefets appointed by M. Duchatel, had 
been turned off by the excited population ; others 
had of their own accord resigned their posts. Was it 
expedient, then, for the sake of pleasing the royalists, 
that the Republican Government should leave France 
without administrative machinery? 

As to the selections made, there were no doubt 
several not of the best ; nor is there anything sur- 
prising in this, if we reflect that M. Ledru Rollin 
had to decide precipitately, from one day to the other, 
often on defective information ; and that the absolute 
necessity of this despatch left no time for necessary 
inquiries. It was an enormously difficult task to 


improvise Republican administrators for the whole of 
France, out of a staff of persons most of them un- 
known. One man had influence in his department, but 
his opinions were doubtful ; another was a man who 
could be depended upon, but his influence was limited. 
Generally speaking, it would have been desirable to 
assign to each locality such public officers as were 
known there ; but in the confusion following upon a 
social convulsion so sudden, and in the midst of so 
many absorbing and such various matters of importance 
to be attended to, how was it possible to have ready 
at call the most suitable instruments ? 

Besides, it is beyond all question, that of the 
appointments the greater part were good, some ex- 
cellent ; and if a few blunders were made, M. Ledru 
Rollin corrected them as soon as they were reported 
to him. Of all the agents chosen by the Minister of 
the Interior, the one whose appointment gave rise to 
the most virulent attacks, was a person named Rian- 
court, sub-commissioner of Havre. Now, what was 
the amazement of the pious souls who, on this subject, 
had invoked heaven and earth against M. Ledru Rollin, 
when it was proved that this Riancourt had been 
appointed on the recommendation of the Archbishop 
of Paris ! No doubt Archbishop Affre had been 
deceived with respect to his protege ; but in what 
respect was M. Ledru Rollin culpable for attend- 
ing to a recommendation from such a distinguished 
source ? 

But these unjust attacks did not stop here. There 
were some — and Lord Normanby in his book is of the 


number* — who found fault bitterly with M. Lediu 
Rollin for having, in a circular of instructions to the 
commissioners, used the expression, " your powers are 
unlimited." The expression was certainly absolute, 
too absolute perhaps ; but its intention was so satis- 
factorily explained in the circular itself as to dissipate 
all pretext for an unfair interpretation of it ; since, 
in speaking of the magistracy opposed, as it was 
known to be, to the new order of things, the instruc- 
tions in question said, "the magistracy depends upon 
the Executive only in the manner prescribed by law.f 9> 
Did that signify that the agents of the Executive 
should consider themselves placed above the law ? If 
we go back to the period itself; if we bear in mind the 
unsettled state of the departments, and the exigences 
of revolution sometimes requiring that power should 
do the office of law, it may appear that there was a 
certain amount of prudence in addressing the depart- 
ments in an energetic tone, which, in point of fact, 
was used in order to avoid the necessity of having 
recourse to measures of severity. For it had reached 
the ears of the Provisional Government, that in cer- 
tain provincial towns there were fanatical royalists 
who were calling anarchy to their aid ; that function- 
aries who had been turned off, were in some places 
exciting the people against the newly-appointed offi- 
cials ; that several of the commissioners had been driven 
away, and others insulted. It was indispensable, 

* "A Year of Revolution iu Paris," vol. i. p. 217. 
f Monitcur, March 13, 1848. 


therefore, while the turmoil was yet at its height, to 
overawe malevolence, to keep revolt in check, to pre- 
vent conflicts, and to give to the representatives of 
the central power a consciousness of force which would 
preserve them both from discouragement and in- 
efficiency. But, after all, was there in this so-much- 
abused circular a single word that could pass for a 
threat of violence ? No ! in the instruction given to the 
commissioners to do what public safety required, it 
was said : " Thanks to our manners, there is nothing 
of terror in such a mission." And, indeed, what of 
terror was there in it? What arbitary acts could 
in consequence be pointed out? What liberty was 
assailed ? What breach of the law was committed by 
these formidable " proconsuls with unlimited powers?" 
What newspapers were there arbitrarily suppressed, as 
long as the power of the Republic was wielded by the 
Provisional Government? What homes violated ? What 
wholesale transportations commanded? What victims 
sent to Lambessa or to Cayenne? 

I will hereafter advert to that part of the circular 
which related to electoral proceedings, and I will prove 
that there never was a Government which more scru- 
pulously respected the liberty of election ; but we are 
already in a position to judge of the amount of fairness 
which characterises M. Ledru Rollings opponents. 

In Paris, the power of the Minister of the Interior 
had a solid support in that of the Prefecture of the 

I seem still to have before me the picture which 
presented itself to my eves when I first set foot in 


the prefecture of police. What a change ! No longer 
that dreary den where, under the preceding regime, 
there reigned the silence of death, and where every- 
thing breathed suspicion, defiance, and hatred. The 
sombre-looking ser gents de ville had disappeared, and 
there was no fear of elbowing, in passing, any of those 
filthy spies out of uniform, with looks as awry as their 
souls, who, at the very moment I am writing these 
words, are the horror of Paris, the shame of the 
civilization placed under their degrading safeguard, 
and the dishonour of the government which employs 
them. After February, the prefecture of police no 
longer presented that appearance which it had under 
Louis Philippe, and was still less like what it is now 
under Louis Bonaparte. It was no longer a cavern, 
but a guard-house. Night, had already come on when 
I got there : by the light of the torches that were 
everywhere stuck about, I perceived numbers of people 
coming and going. The principal court, the staircases 
and halls, were filled with rough but honest-looking 
men, wearing red woollen neck-cloths, and scarfs of 
the same colour and stuff round their waists ; some 
were smoking, while others were lying on camp beds ; 
some too swearing lrke troopers. More than one 
equivocal word struck my ear. I do not deny that, 
taken altogether, the scene was one very likely to 
offend the taste of persons who have never done any- 
thing but dangle in drawing-rooms. But there was 
really nothing of a repulsive character in it. An air of 
civic good-nature and heartiness in these red neck- 
clothed men softened down their idle swagger and ' 


loose expressions. Their excitement was a hundred 
times less intimidating than the mute silence of the 
black phantoms they succeeded ; while the endless 
weapons of every possible kind, which they seemed to 
take pleasure in displaying, were far from awakening 
those sanguinary associations which in France always 
attach to the sword of a sergent de ville. 

I went up to the office of the secretary-general, 
having business to transact with the person then 
in charge of the prefecture ; and I found myself in 
presence of a man whose herculean limbs, bull neck, 
and gigantic stature, rendered more remarkable by the 
smallness of the head, disproportioned to the rest of 
the body, were calculated to produce a feeling akin to 
fear, but for the confidence at once inspired by the 
gentleness of his manners, his tone of voice, and a 
certain air of simple good nature which spread over 
him from head to foot ; this peculiar air, however, 
vanished somewhat after a first glance; for the half- 
veiled light of his eyes soon divulged the character 
of his mind, an extraordinary mixture of pliancy 
and energy, of eccentric impulses and cautious wari- 
ness, of bluntness and finesse. The reader at all 
acquainted with the personages of this period, will 
have guessed that I am here speaking of M. Marc 

On the 24th of February, at the head of some work- 
ing-men, who had been fighting on the barricades, he 
went to the prefecture of police, where, acting under 
the contingencies of the moment, he took upon himself 
the responsibility of preserving public order, subject to 

'. if- 1 % 


the future arrangements of the Provisional Govern- 
ment. The short interview I had with him convinced 
me that he perfectly understood the nature of the task 
he had undertaken, and that he was well suited to it. 
Moreover, he was not quite a stranger to me. I had 
known him when I was connected with the Reforms 
newspaper, and had opportunities of observing the rare 
zeal and tact he displayed in extending the circulation 
of that journal. When, shortly before the Revolution, 
M. Ledru Rollin, Flocon, and myself, went to the 
banquet of Dijon, he accompanied us; and we had 
there the opportunity of collecting from his speeches to 
the people, that he had a sort of untaught eloquence, 
fantastic, unconnected, full of hap-hazard quotations, 
and common expressions, but abounding in fire, sur- 
prising by unexpected turns, and reaching, in a kind of 
confused and disorderly way, the end he wanted to 
arrive at. 

There was no reason whatever, therefore, why the 
minority should not draw well with him, especially as 
his acts at the prefecture of police bore, from the 
beginning, the stamp of public utility. He at once 
addressed himself with zeal and success to the 
care of the public markets, gave a spur to the slug- 
gishness of official routine, cleared the streets of the 
obstructions arising from the barricades,' attended to 
the cleanliness and lighting of the city, vigorously 
revived the police regulations affecting the security 
and free circulation of the public ways : showed, in fact, 
an administrative aptness which not even his enemies 
could dispute, and which subsequently, under critical 


circumstances, obtained for him the support of the 
bourgeoisie itself.* 

Of the forbearance, conciliatory spirit, and even 
courtesy, with which he discharged his duties, take 
as an illustration the following letter from his pre- 
decessor in the prefecture, M. Gabriel Delessert, dated 
the 29th of April, 1848. 

" Monsieur le Prefet, I have just learned from my 
friends in Paris the kind way in which you have 
expressed yourself relative to the short stay that 
Madame Delessert was obliged to make at Passy, and 
your regrets at her not having applied to you. Permit 
me to offer you my thanks, which I do with all the 
more pleasure for its affording me an opportunity of 
saying how sensible I am of your kind offices in so 
obligingly permitting the wearing apparel, horses, and 
other objects, belonging to my wife and myself, to be 
removed from the prefecture of police. I am happy, 
Monsieur le Prefet, in thus tendering you the ex- 
pression of my sincere and grateful thanks. Do me the 
honour to accept the assurance of my high con- 

Gabriel Delessert." f 

* When the Assembly was invaded by the people, May 15, 1848, M. 
Caussidiere, having been accused of not having sufficiently exerted himself 
against the movement, in his capacity of Prefect of Police, resigned, and 
immediately appealed to the electors. The result was that the Club of 
the Manege of the Chaussee d'Antin, composed of Conservatives, accepted 
him as a candidate, and he was elected a representative of the people by 
147,000 votes. 

t " Memoires de M. Caussidiere." 


But all this did not hinder the majority from looking 
with a suspicious eye on M. Caussidiere's presence at 
the prefecture of police. MM. Gamier Pages and 
Marrast particularly were alarmed at seeing so important 
an office entrusted to a man who had been so much 
mixed up with political dissensions, and whose social 
tendencies were so different from theirs. Their anxiety 
was redoubled when informed that M. Caussidiere was 
surrounded by a band of determined men, 2000 in 
number, who, under the name of the Guard of the 
People, constituted the only organised force existing in 
Paris. Various were the attempts made, first to remove 
him, and then to subordinate his authority to that of 
the mayoralty of Paris ; but the majority of the govern- 
ment met with a resistance in the Council which 
they did not think it politic to override. Accordingly, 
on the 13th of March, on the motion of M. Ledru 
Kollin, it was resolved not only that M. Caussidiere 
should be officially confirmed in his office, but that the 
office itself, detached from the mayoralty, should be 
placed under the jurisdiction of the Minister of the 
Interior. Free scope was given to M. Caussidiere's 
action ; nor did public order suffer from it. For he so 
skilfully made use of his Montagnards — it was thus the 
men with red scarfs of whom I have spoken were 
designated — in watching over the security of Paris, 
and keeping a tight hand on all kinds of malefactors, 
as to be able — to borrow a picturesque expression, which 
is his own, and which conveys a good idea of his ad- 
ministration, — " to establish order by means of disorder." 

Among those who accompanied M. Caussidiere to 

M. sobrier's garrison. 285 

the prefecture of police on the 24th of February, was 
a pale young man of a feeble frame, named Sobrier, 
a person of excitable temperament, much intrepidity, 
inoffeusive disposition, disinterested and generous 
in an extraordinary degree. He had just come into 
possession of a rich inheritance, and his first care was 
to appropriate 20,000 francs to the diffusion of repub- 
lican ideas. There was great talk at the time about 
an armed and permanent club in an apartment he had 
hired in No. 16, Rue de Rivoli, which formerly be- 
longed to the civil list. The fact of such a club existing 
is true, and equally so that the establishment of a 
garrison in a private house, in the midst of the most 
tranquil quarter of Paris, was a thing which, in ordi- 
nary times, would have been intolerable; even then it 
was the cause of much complaint. But what was not 
sufficiently known at the time, and what is still gene- 
rally unknown, is, that the arms collected in Sobrier's 
house were furnished by the prefecture of police, 
without the knowledge of the minority, on the autho- 
rity of a letter from M. de Lamartine.* Clear proof that 
M. de Lamartine supposed him incapable of making a 
bad use of them ! And in fact, Sobrier was the most 
harmless man in the world, and the only mischief his 
armed club did was to the Republic, by furnishing the 
royalists with a plausible pretext for attacking it. 

We cannot recall the revolutionary incidents of 
1848 without mentioning the clubs, meeting daily or 
weekly, which suddenly sprang up at each point of the 

* "Memoires de M. Caussidiere," to whom the letter was sent. Vol. ii. p. 177. 


capital, and gave vent to an unrestricted expression of 
free thought by means of free speech. 

The two clubs which at this period attracted the 
most attention and exercised the most influence, were 
that of the " Societe Centrale," directed with much 
ability by M. Blanqui, and that which M. Barbes had 
established at the Palais Nationale, under the name of 
the " Club de la Revolution." 

I have heard a great deal of the intellectual powers of 
M. Blanqui, of his monastic ascetism, of his skill in 
practising underhand manoeuvres, of his capacity of 
managing popular passions, of the influence he acquires 
over certain men by his solitary kind of life, by his mode 
of expressing himself, at once cold and audacious, by 
his sombre looks and emaciated face. Whether this be 
a faithful portrait I cannot say ; for, personally, I have 
no acquaintance with M. Blanqui. When the Revolu- 
tion broke out I had never seen him but once, and 
that in passing ; I have never seen him since, and I 
have never had any relations whatever with him, direct 
or indirect. Nor have I any better knowledge of what 
his views were with respect to the organisation of 
democracy, seeing that he never has, as far as I know, 
put forward anything precise upon the subject; possibly 
because he has come to no fixed conclusions about it, 
or because he is apprehensive of submitting his opinions 
to the dangerous test of discussion and criticism, or it 
may have been that he imagined he was making him- 
self greater by looming through a kind of mystery. 

As to M. Barbes, whoever has followed the political 
events which have agitated France for the last thirty 

M. BAEBES. 287 

years, must know the part lie has played, and in what 
degree; while exhibiting the qualities which should 
distinguish a public man, he has united in himself 
the courage of a cavalier with the devotedness of a 
martyr. But they only who have lived on terms of 
intimacy with him, know that this man, who never 
compromised with injustice, who never bent to force, 
who never retreated before danger, who was never 
moved in the presence of death, is, in the ordinary 
affairs of life, a person of such sweet gentleness of cha- 
racter, and so engaging an intercourse, that it is im- 
possible to approach without loving him. I have 
letters of his in my possession which are master-pieces 
of grace, sensibility, and style ; some of them, in 
which he speaks of France humiliated and enslaved, 
are of a melancholy so touching, so absolutely irre- 
sistible, that they would draw tears from those 
who, on the faith of interested calumnies, shudder at 
his name. 

I question if in the whole of history we can find 
an example of self-denial comparable with that fur- 
nished by the life of M. Barbes. When first he 
devoted himself, soul and body, to the service of the 
Republic, which his high intelligence was not satisfied 
with regarding merely as a form of government more 
or less good, but rather contemplating as a means of 
remedying social evils, the sight of which had afflicted 
him from his earliest years, M. Barbes had just com- 
pleted a brilliant education. He was young, handsome, 
and rich ; he had a cultivated mind, attractive manners, 
and might have consequently aspired to occupy a 


position in society in conformity with so rare an 
assemblage of personal advantages. But God had 
assigned devotedness to him as the part he was to 
play ; and though the possibility of a social renovation 
was not then to be descried save in the far-distance, 
he did not hesitate to embrace the cause of those who 
suffer, resolutely decided to serve it until his latest 
hour. The struggle in which he embarked against the 
corrupt government of Louis Philippe I have myself 
described at length in the "History of Ten Years." 
Defeated in this struggle, which was not entirely 
thrown away, since it conduced to the Revolution of 
February, M. Barbes did not think of defending him- 
self in the presence of the judges before whom he 
was brought. Averse to everything like stage effect, 
he, for a long time, maintained an unbroken silence, 
partly from modesty, partly from disdain, until being- 
pressed by the Chamber of Peers to make some ex- 
planation, he replied : " When the Indian savage is 
overcome, when by the fortune of war he falls into 
the power of his enemies, he has not recourse to empty 
wj)rds ; he resigns himself, and gives his head to the 
scalping knife." And, the next day, M. Pasquier 
having been unblushing enough to say that he did right 
to compare himself to a savage, Barbes replied to him, 
with calm contempt : u The pitiless savage is not the 
one who offers his head to be scalped, but the one 
who scalps." 

He was capitally condemned on the false charge, 
proved to be false, of having, in the affair of the 
12th of May, treacherously shot Captain Drouineau 


while parleying with that officer.* What was really 
true was, that M. Barbes had taken part in an in- 
surrection ; he did not deny it, and this was reason 
enough for his being condemned. But the calumny 
I have mentioned, was devised to divert the im- 
mense interest excited throughout Paris by the bravery 
of his conduct; it was however to no purpose. The 
idea that so noble a head was about to perish on the 
scaffold filled the capital with sorrow. The workshops 
were abandoned, the barriers deserted. I was in Paris 
at that time, July, 1839, and I saw with my own eyes, 
3000 students arrive at the Place Vendome, bare- 
headed, with crape on their arms ; who took the direc- 
tion of the Chancellerie, and went to ask for the pardon 
of Barbes. Out of respect for this state of public 
feeling, and also from that aversion to shedding blood, 
which was one of the virtues of Louis Philippe, the 
punishment was commuted, and M. Barbes was thrown 
into the dungeons of the monarchy, from which the 
Revolution released him. He had passed nine years 
in prison, when he paid his first visit to the Provisional 
Government, all the members of which, without a single 
exception, received him with open arms. Captivity 
had paled his face, hollowed his cheeks, thinned his hair, 
and dimmed the fire of his eyes ; but his serenity 
remaining unchanged, was all the more touching. 

* This falsehood having found its way into England, I think it my duty 
to state what actually occurred. The guard under the command of Cap- 
taiu Drouineau being drawn up before the insurgents, the latter, according 
to a form usual in France on such occasions, invited them to fraternise. 
To this Captain Drouineau replied by an order to fire, on which the 
! insurgents poured in a volley, and he fell. 



It is easy to conceive how much popularity must 
have attached to a club over which he presided. There 
were to be seen assembled in it a great number of work- 
ing-men of the Republican party : M. Martin Bernard, 
an intimate friend of M. Barbes, whose perils and 
sufferings he had shared ; M. Thore, who had achieved 
a distinguished place both amongst journalists and 
artists ; M. Etienne Arago, a brother of the illustrious 
savant of that name, and M. Emmanuel Arago, his son ; 
M. Greppo, a Lyonnese workman of great influence, about 
to become representative of the people ; the celebrated 
M. Proudhon, and finally M. Landolphe, who had taken 
a prominent part in the political strife of the previous 
reign, and who, by the nature of his convictions resting 
on large acquirements, the elevation of his mind, and 
his indomitable firmness, was naturally summoned to 
the side of M. Barbes. There, every evening, in the 
presence of a numerous, attentive, and sympathising 
audience, were discussed political and social questions 
of the gravest importance ; there, theoretic views were 
developed, and expressed sometimes in language very 
bold, but in general free from asperity, and never taking 
the form of appeals to violence. 

Another Club, much frequented and in the highest 
degree orderly, was that of the Amis dn Peuple, which 
was formed by M. Raspail, in the Salle de la Rue dc 
Montesquieu. The political influence of Raspail, his rhe- 
torical talent, and his great reputation as a physician, 
and man of science, drew great numbers about him. 
His club was, in this respect, different from the others, 
as being rather a place of philosophical and social 

CLUBS. 291 

instruction by one man, than an open arena of dis- 
cussion. " I had for my audience," he has himself 
since stated, a my old patients, my devoted pupils, my 
old companions in the work of self-instruction, well- 
doing, and suffering." * 

Independently of the principal clubs, there were 
numbers of others, corresponding with every shade ot 
opinion. The Phalansterians flocked to MM. Con- 
siderant and Cantagrel, as many of the Communists 
did to M. Cabet. There were Orleanist clubs, and 
Legitimist clubs; of the former, take as an instance 
that over which M. Viennet presided, under the title 
of " Republican Club for the Liberty of Elections" and 
of the latter, the club of the tenth arrondissement 
presided over by M. Yatimesnil. 

Home policy, foreign policy, taxation, emancipation 
of working men, the improvement of the condition of 
poor women, gratuitous national education, the union 
of peoples, — what questions were there not raised and 
discussed in these ardent laboratories of public opinion? 
Oh, how swift was the march of life then ! How each 
man's heart beat quicker ! and what swift wings the 
imagination lent to the mind's conceptions ! So in- 
tense was the life of society, moved to its very depths, 
that in a few days the number of the clubs rose to 
300 ; and though immense halls had been placed at 
the disposal of these popular meetings in various public 
buildings, yet, from these halls, crammed every night 
to suffocation, intellectual excitement overflowed into 

* Report of the trial of M. Raspail, before the High Court of Bourges, 

u 2 


the streets, spread from man to man, and finally, 
penetrating into those miserable haunts, where the 
most noble faculties of man had been hitherto asleep, 
awakened a powerful and impassioned curiosity. 

Add to this, the incessant action of a crowd of new 
journals, to which the abolition of the stamp-duty 
had largely contributed ; and the combative character of 
literature, as represented by such writers as MM. Victor 
Hugo, Eugene Sue, Felix Pyat, and Madame George 

I need hardly say, that in the midst of this vast 
melee of aspirations and feelings, all of which were per- 
mitted, without exception, to express and justify them- 
selves, the Provisional Government praised by some, 
was the object of vehement and repeated attacks from 
others ; if allowance was made for the difficulty of its 
task in the club of Barbes, it was criticised with ever- 
increasing severity in the club of Blanqui. If the 
majority of the council was supported by the Nationnel, 
whose views had undergone no change, and if the 
minority found an advocate in the Reforme, edited by 
M. Ribeyrolles in the most brilliant manner, how many 
were the journals that indiscriminately attacked, and 
even flung their invectives at the whole Provisional 
Government. Not one of our acts escaped the bit- 
terest scrutiny from M. Emile Girardin, chief editor 
of the Presse. Not a single thing we did which was not 
cited by M. Proudhon, editor of the Reprcsentant 
du Peuple, as a proof that all governments, be they 
what they might, ought to be suppressed, and that the 
only thing which should be left standing was anarchy, 


or, to use the orthography of Proudhon, an-archy. 
M. de Lamennais. too, who a little later, came over to 
Socialism, opposed it at that time, from not having 
sufficiently studied it, and his journal, Le Peuple Con- 
stituant, waged active war against the Luxembourg. 

Thus lashed by every wave of this agitated and roaring 
sea, what course did the Provisional Government take ? 
Were they to be seen, doing what Louis Bonaparte and 
his supporters do at this very hour — interdicting dis- 
cussion, reducing their adversaries to silence, trembling 
at the least appearance of criticism, growing pale before 
the mere shadow of an allusion, seeking their safety and 
force in darkness ? No. The Provisional Government 
were so convinced of their moral strength, so bold from 
the consciousness of their good intentions, and so con- 
fiding in the spontaneous support of a free people, that 
far from fearing the light — a fear that should be left to 
malefactors — they spread their special protection over 
the liberty of their most violent enemies. The printing- 
house of M. Emile de Girardin having been menaced 
by a crowd of people exasperated at the excess to which 
he carried his systematic attacks upon the official 
agents of the Republic, M. Caussidiere at once despatched 
his Montagnards to keep the crowd in order, and M. 
Ledru Rollin went himself to assist personally in pre- 
serving unscathed that liberty which M. de Girardin 
was so remorsely using at our expense. A fact like 
this took place at the Luxembourg. Some dele- 
gates having come and told me that the people were 
irritated at our persistence in suffering the Constitu- 
tionnel to pour its venom every morning on the Luxem- 


bourg, and that a great number of workmen were 
assembled at that very moment in the court, intending 
to go and bring it to account for its calumnies, I instantly 
went out to them, and turned them from their purpose 
by words whose extreme vehemence disarmed them. 

There survives, moreover, an official and decisive tes- 
timony to the confidence of the Provisional Government 
in the sympathies of the nation. I allude to the Pro- 
clamation they published on the 20th of April, con- 
cerning the Clubs. It begins with these words : " The 
Republic lives by discussion and liberty," and finishes 
thus : " The best safe-guard of liberty, is liberty." * 

Let the people of England compare the principles so 
openly professed by the Provisional Government, with 
those that are now directing the policy of Louis Bona- 
parte, and then let them say, if, for Great Britain, an 
alliance with the Republic would not have been more 
natural, more reasonable, more certain, than an alliance 
with the Empire ? 

After all, the licence given to the Clubs and to the 
newspapers had, together with some of the drawbacks 
inseparable from all human things, advantages which 
will not be lost to the future. The questions under 
discussion alarmed and irritated egotists of every kind, 
all who live by abuses ; factitious agitation was encou- 
raged; the tendency to innovation sometimes manifested 
itself under ridiculous forms ; there was much decla- 
mation • and the allurements offered to public curiosity 
were not always wholesome or substantial. But pro- 

* Moniteur, 20th April, 1848. 


blems of a high interest were proposed, and their solu- 
tion matured ; the attention of the people was keenly 
aroused on points on which the light of knowledge 
was cast for the first time ; true working ideas sprang 
up amongst others that were vain and chimerical ; in a 
word, the soil was ploughed in all directions, and seed 
was thrown into it, which nothing hereafter can destroy, 
which even at this moment is germinating silently, and 
which, when the winter shall have passed away, that is, 
on the morrow of the day when despotism shall have 
vanished, will yield a harvest whose rich abundance will 
be the astonishment of Europe. 




Just born of a popular movement, the Provisional 
Government had now to define their own position. 

Should they regard themselves as dictators appointed 
by a revolution which had become inevitable, and 
under no obligation to seek the sanction of universal 
suffrage, until after having accomplished all the good 
which the moment required ? 

Or should they, on the contrary, confine their mission 
to an immediate convocation of the National Assembly, 
limiting their action to measures of immediate urgency 
and administrative acts of secondary importance ? 

Of these two courses, the latter was unquestionably 
the more regular and the least dangerous ; it placed 
the disinterestedness of the Provisional Government 
beyond suspicion ; it partially saved us from the re- 
proach of usurpation; it was this which the Council 

For myself, I was of an entirely different opinion, 
believing that the adoption of the other course would 
have a most auspicious influence on the destinies of >the 
new Republic/ 

Not that I, in the least, concealed from myself its 


difficulties and perils. For I knew very well that 
society does not easily permit itself to be carried for- 
ward much beyond the present limit of its knowledge 
and views ; that the march of History does not keep 
pace either with the desires of generous hearts, nor even 
with the logical development of a sound idea, and that 
it is within the competence of no one to make it move 
faster or slower according to his own caprice. Never- 
theless, this observation, to be accurate, must not be 
taken in too absolute a sense; for, after all, circumstances 
are merely the result of a certain combination of indi- 
vidual efforts ; and the action of a few men of character, 
when they are in a position to apply a great power to 
the triumph of a great idea, has beyond all doubt its 
weight in the balance of human affairs. 

Therefore, reflecting on the profound ignorance 
and moral inertness in which the rural districts of 
France are plunged ; the immense resources placed in 
the hands of the enemies of progress by their exclusive 
possession of all the means of influence, and of all the 
avenues to wealth ; the infinite germs of impurity 
deposited in the very foundations of society by half a 
century of Imperial or Monarchical corruption, and, 
finally, the numerical superiority of the ignorant 
peasantry over the enlightened population of the towns* 
I came to the conclusion that we ought to adjourn the 
elections to the latest possible moment. I thought 
that, meanwhile, it was imperatively our duty to take 
boldly and bravely, at the risk of our heads, the initi- 
ative of the vast reforms which had to be accomplished, 
always, of course, reserving to the National Assembly 


the right of subsequently affirming or abrogating our 
work with a sovereign will. 

In this way, we should have put time on our side ; we 
should have been able, with all the force which is derived 
from the possession of power, to act upon the French 
nation, that nation so sensitive, intelligent, and prompt 
to obey the impulses coming from authority ; we should 
have thus, as it were, placed a luminous beacon on 
the summit of society which would have lit it up 
throughout its whole extent ; in a word, by the time 
that the sovereignty of the people, recognised and 
proclaimed from the very first, should have been sum- 
moned to the ballot-box, they would have completed 
their education. 

This also was Albert's opinion, and nothing was 
more calculated to confirm me in mine; for Albert,, 
with a rare straight-forwardness, combined a remark- 
able penetration. Whenever he addressed the Council, 
it was always to give utterance to just and generous 
ideas, in language nervous and precise. 

What lamentable results would necessarily be the 
consequences of an opposite course ! 

The Provisional Government compelled to hurry on 
its action, and, by hurrying, to compromise it — power 
urged on by the inherent spirit of the Revolution to 
accomplish brilliant reforms, and going no farther than 
crude suggestions — the elections abandoned to the do- 
minion of ancient prejudices and local influences — 
universal suffrage throwing up, as the necessary con- 
sequence of a coalition among the different fractions 
of the conquered party, an assembly hostile to its own 


principles — the spirit of reaction encouraged by the 
ruling power's distrust of itself, and by the temporary 
character of its functions — the popular leaders, in the 
very presence of this reaction, prematurely disarming 
themselves — this is what I foresaw ; this is what was but 
too soon realised. 

Yes, I say it without hesitation, it was my wish, 
from the first hour of the existence of the Provisional 
Government that we should pitch our duties high and 
raise our power to a level with our duties. There are, 
moreover, in the life of a nation, critical opportunities, 
of which the instinct of real statesmen is sure to avail 
itself. The creation of a National Bank, the purchase 
of railways, the unification of offices of insurance, the 
formation of a financial department especially devoted 
to labour, how many of these things were afterwards 
denounced as, and really became, impracticable, which, 
at that time, were easy enough ! 

It is obvious, therefore, how important was the 
question of whether the elections should be hurried 
on or adjourned. 

Now, on this point, my opinion was in perfect con- 
formity with that of the people of Paris. Endowed 
unexpectedly with the right of the franchise — a 
right to them so novel — the working-classes did not 
at all understand that they were called upon to ex- 
temporise the means of improving their condition. 

They had need for reflection on their new position ; 
they asked for time necessary to consult leisurely 
among themselves as to the qualifications of those 
who were to be elected. 


This desire, though exaggerated in them by the 
leaders of the clubs, was both legitimate and reasonable. 
Only in fixing the interval which was to elapse, they 
committed the mistake of not sufficiently taking into the 
account the different situation of the provinces from that 
of Paris. The interval determined upon was about a 
month ; this was too much or too little. The obvious 
course was either to proceed immediately with the 
elections, in order to take advantage of the revolu- 
tionary impulse of February, or to adjourn them to 
a period sufficiently remote to give the Provisional 
Government time to train public opinion to a better 
appreciation of the true character of republicanism, 
a larger experience of its vigour, and an accurate 
estimate of its benefits. But to take a middle course 
was to give prostrate parties the time to raise their 
heads, and at the same time to cast away the force 
which would have been able to restrain them. 

Be this as it may, some days before the 17th of 
March, information reached me at the Luxembourg 
that the people of Paris were preparing an imposing 
manifestation, for the double purpose of obtaining the 
adjournment of the elections (whether of the National 
Guard, or of the Members of the Constituent Assembly), 
and the removal of the troops still remaining in Paris. 

Now, with both these objects, I completely sym- 
pathised. The adjournment of the elections, the 
question of time apart, I earnestly desired for the 
reasons already mentioned. As to the removal of 
the troops, I had been always of opinion that the 
presence of the army in inland towns, especially 


Paris, was one of the most serious perils to which 
liberty could be exposed. In point of fact, the very 
day before the revolution of February, I had, as a 
member of a political society to which I belonged, 
drawn up a protest against using soldiers for putting 
down civil disturbances; with the objects of the in- 
tended manifestation, therefore, I could not but 
concur. What, I confess, alarmed me, was the idea of 
the manifestation itself. I could hardly persuade 
myself-— the prudence of the people has since punished 
me for my apprehensions, while filling me with joy 
—I could scarcely believe that more than 150,000 
working-men could circulate through Paris without 
causing the slightest excitement or the least disorder. 
But what way was there to prevent it ? By granting 
to the people what with justice, according to my view, 
they demanded ; it was to this end that Albert and 
myself directed our endeavours. 

Unfortunately, however, it had got into the heads of 
our colleagues that the principal object of our warn- 
ings was to fetter the deliberations of Government, and 
to coerce it by menace. In a Council that was one 
evening held at the Palace of the Petit Luxembourg, 
and to which M.M. de Courtais and Gurnard, Com- 
manders of the National Guard, were summoned, I 
made a frank communication of all I knew. 

The people in a body were to move on the Hotel 
de Ville, to obtain the adjournment of the elections; 
but the question was, could this take place without 
danger ? Up to this time, Paris, the Paris of the 
Revolution, had been signalised by its attitude of 


tranquil majesty and powerful repose; was it not our 
duty to see that it should be preserved to the last ? 
Supposing it were true, that some unknown agitators 
intended to take advantage of the vast multitude 
once in motion, to cause some disturbance, nothing 
would be easier than to foil them. To anticipate 
popular wishes is to avoid the risk of being compelled 
to obey them. Of course, it would not have become 
us to yield to the dictation of these desires, irre- 
spective of their object; for there are circumstances 
in which a government, which does not know how to 
resist the wishes of the people, betrays them ; but though 
in certain exigencies it be the duty of men of probity 
to place the sovereignty of their own conscience above 
that of the sovereignty of the people, why should 
they hesitate to yield when the demands are just ? 
Was it not better, then, to do before the manifesta- 
tion, in order to ward off its perils, that which 
afterwards we should be obliged to do in order to 
arrest its course ? 

The dignity of the Government in this case was 
coincident with its prudence. To these arguments 
were added others, which a feeling of delicacy induces 
me to suppress. That very grave differences of opinion 
existed among the members of the Provisional Govern- 
ment is not, at this time of day, to be concealed. 
These differences, which, as respects unity of action, 
made this government a very defective executive 
power, constituted its peculiarity as a government of 
transition, whose office it was to watch over the seat 
of sovereignty j in point of fact this very diversity of I 


contradictory elements was well adapted to the protec- 
tion required, because it tended to keep the different 
forces of society in equilibrium. 

Thus, the antecedents of M. de Lamartine especi- 
ally qualified him to attract into the paths of progress 
the most sluggish parts of the nation, while I, through 
my well-known opinions, was enabled to tranquillise 
the working class. It was in reference to this I 
one day said to M. de Lamartine, " We are each of 
us in this singular position; it is you who are re- 
sponsible for progress, and I who am responsible for 
order ? " 

Hence this variety of elements, bad in settled Go- 
vernment, which implies a concert of opinions, was 
good in a Provisional Government having to prevent 
any conflict of views, until the coming of a permanent 
power. To make a rent in it, would necessarily be to 
open a breach through which ambitions of every kind, 
fermenting with avidity and impatience, must have 
precipitously entered. This was one of the reasons 
which militated in my mind against the proposed 
movement. I was apprehensive, after most mature 
reflection, that it might be used as an instrument to 
overturn some of my colleagues. It may be conceived, 
therefore, how much I must have been pained at finding 
my recommendations rejected by them, from a feeling 
of suspicion I so little deserved. Deeply wounded, I 
rose and declared that from that moment I should 
cease to make one of the Provisional Government. 
Albert, at the same time, had risen impetuously, and 
we were in the act of leaving the Council Chamber, 


when, seized with an anxiety that was honourable to 
them, our colleagues recalled and retained us. Address- 
ing himself immediately to the Council, M. Ledru Rollin 
pointed out with much animation, that there was no 
necessity for being in a hurry to fix the precise period 
of the elections ; that previous preparations were requi- 
site ; that these preparations were not finished ; and that 
information of importance, expected from the provinces, 
had not yet arrived. This let all of us off easily, and 
the question was left undecided. 

The people, however, still continued to be much 

Thanks to the trades' delegates, the Luxembourg 
being, as it were, a sort of instant echo of the great 
voice of the faubourgs, I learnt at once that in this 
excitement there was something of peculiar gravity 
and import. The suppression of the grenadier 
companies of the National Guard had given rise on 
their part to a demonstration as fruitless as it was 
rash. Paris was greatly disturbed, and my appre- 
hensions vastly increased. It was the trade companies, 
and not the clubs, which had taken the initiative ; I 
therefore lost no time in calling a meeting at the 
Luxembourg, on the morning of the 17th, of those 
workmen whom I knew were in the greatest repute 
with their comrades. "The movement/' they said, "is 
on foot, and cannot be stopped." I then entreated 
them to abstain from all inflammatory cries, carefully j 
to keep down their own excitement, in a word, so to 
manage the demonstration as to convert it into a 
lasting testimony to the good sense of the people.; 


This they assured me they would do with such a frank 
decision of manner, as completely to secure my confi- 
dence ; and with my mind almost entirely at ease, I 
returned to my colleagues at the Hotel de Ville. 

The great news of the day had, however, preceded me ; 
but as it was not convenient for my colleagues to confess 
they were in the wrong in having turned a deaf ear to 
Albert's warnings and mine, they affected to believe, at 
all events to say, that all that was meant was a sudden 
protest on the part of the workmen against the menaces 
of the grenadier companies ; an idle supposition, to 
which the working men, by their evident organisation, 
and the very terms of their petition, were about to 
give the most signal contradiction. We were all of us 
in anxious expectation of what was coming, when 
suddenly, at one of the ends of the Place de Greve, a 
dark dense mass presented itself. 

This was the van of the trades' companies, separated at 
regular intervals, and preceded by their special banners. 
They took up their ground in perfect silence, with the 
order and discipline of an army — a fine and valiant army 
indeed ! but one which, instead of death, brought labour 
the source of life ; and it was with hands unburdened 
with the weight of swords, and with looks of peace 
and love, that it came on, deploying its peaceful bat- 
talions under the beams of a glorious sun. I was 
moved to tears, and, recollecting my doubts, I asked 
pardon of the people in the fullness of my heart. 

A momentary cloud, however, passed rapidly over this 
feeling of joy. The delegates had come up the steps of 
the Hotel de Ville, and one of them, citizen Gerard, 


had read the petition, which, asked in the name of the 
people of Paris, for the removal of the troops out of 
the capital, the adjournment of the elections of the 
National Guard to the 5th of April, and that of the 
elections for the Assembly to the 3 1st of May, when I per- 
ceived amongst them certain faces unknown to me, with 
something of menace in their expression. It occurred 
to me at once, that persons unconnected with the Com- 
panies had mixed themselves up with the procession ; 
and that of those who presented themselves as deputed 
by the multitude some were not really such, or at all 
events not by virtue of the same title. The object 
of the Companies was what the petition expressed ; 
but these were evidently men impatient to overthrow, 
in favour of the views of Ledru Rollin, Flocon, Albert, 
and myself, the members of the Provisional Govern- 
ment who represented a contrary opinion. What was 
to be done ? The situation was critical ; had but a 
single man been audacious enough to throw open a 
window, and cry out to the crowd in the square 
below, "They refuse your demands, they are ill 
using your delegates," possibly it had been all ove 
with us. Who knows what disasters might not hav 
been the result of a sudden appeal to disappoint 
hopes and irresistible wrath ? What might not ha 
been the consequences of the conflagration ? Whe: 
would it have stopped ? and what frightful responsi 
bility would there not have been heaped upon me by th 
suspicions which constantly attached to me, — by th 
intention imputed to me of aspiring to the dictatorshi 
and by the presence of the delegates of the Luxe 


bourg at the head of the movement. I felt that the 
peculiarity of my position at this moment made it 
imperative on me to be the first to break the silence ; 
accordingly, advancing a few steps, I said : 

" Citizens, the government of the Republic is founded 
upon public opinion ; of that it will never fail to be 
mindful. Our force we are well aware is in the people ; 
our will must always be in harmony with theirs. We 
thank you for the language addressed to us, so full 
of sympathy and devotedness ; the Provisional Govern- 
ment has merited it by its courage, by its firm deter- 
mination to promote the prosperity of the people by 
aid of the people, and through their support. The 
sentiments of order you have expressed, are the conse- 
cration of liberty in France ; it is requisite that the 
strength of the people should exhibit itself with an 
aspect of calmness ; for calmness is the majestic ex- 
pression of strength : the desires you have made known 
to us shall be the subject of our deliberations. You, 
citizens, you yourselves will be the last to wish that the 
government which is your representative, should give 
way to a menace." 

And I wound up by declaring that the matter of the 
petition should receive our most serious consideration ; 
reserving to ourselves our liberty of judgment, and 
that unfettered independence which was due to our self- 

)BJ respect. 

Thus it was that, at the risk of incurring their anger, 
I took in hand the cause of those of my colleagues who 

■jlni i were most opposed to me. My remarks, as was evident, 
were very well received by the representatives of the 

x 2 


trades ; but the ardent men who had mixed themselves 
up with the workmen, betrayed their discontent by sullen 
murmurs. I had said that, were it necessary, we should 
know how to die for the people. Some one in a mena- 
cing tone replied, " Be sure of this, too, that the working 
classes on their side are ready to die for you as long as, 
mark it well, you are true to them." I then repeated 
what I had said, " Leave us to ourselves, that the 
world may know the government of the Republic does 
not deliberate under the influence of threats. They 
who were but the representatives of privileged classes 
might be allowed to fear ; not so we, because we are 
your representatives, and to preserve our own dignity 
is to preserve yours." * 

" Not a step will we move from this place without 
having some answer to carry back to the people/' 
exclaimed some one in a violent tone; but MM. 
Sobrier and Cabet instantly softened down this impe- 
rious exclamation by words full of moderation, good 
sense, and confiding patriotism. 

MM. Ledru Rollin and Lamartine then spoke in 
succession, the first to call attention to the fact tha 
France consisted not merely of the inhabitants oi 
Paris, but of the whole body of citizens ; and tha 
therefore it was necessary, before fixing a day for th 
elections, to ascertain the feeling of the provinces o 
the subject; the second, to protest against the anxiet; 
implied in the demand relative to the removal of t 
troops. " There are no troops in Paris," said he, " exce 

* Moniieur, 18th of March, 1848. 


perhaps some fifteen hundred or two thousand men, 
at various posts outside the city, for the protection of 
the gates of the capital, and the railways; and it is 
quite false to suppose that the government has thought 
of bringing any to Paris. It must, indeed, have been 
mad after what has happened, after the royalty just 
fallen has witnessed eighty thousand men melting away 
before the unarmed people of Paris, to think of im- 
posing upon you with a handful of soldiers, full of the 
same spirit of republicanism, views contrary to your 
independence. No, we never for a moment thought 
of it, we are not thinking of it, we never shall. The 
republic within requires no other defender than the 
people in arms." 

Those who went so far as to desire the overthrow of 
the Provisional Government were silent, the rest 
applauded; and the deputation was retiring, when an 
immense clamour arose from the Place de Greve; the 
people insisted on seeing the members of the govern- 
ment of the Republic; and we went down in com- 
pliance with this desire. But while we were making 
our way through the closely packed crowd on the steps 
of the Hotel de Ville, a man of energetic mien, and 
whose flashing eyes lit up the extreme paleness of his 
face, rushed impetuously towards me, and seizing me by 
the arm, wrathfully exclaimed, "You are then a traitor, 
even you ! " For there were some who imputed it to 
'me as a crime, that I had not availed myself of the 
opportunity of overthrowing those of my colleagues, 
on the ruins of whose power I was, according to 
others, anxious to establish my own. 


As I reflected on this injustice which characterises 
factious passions, a bitter smile played involuntarily 
upon my lips, and this was the only answer I gave. 
On our reaching the platform which had been con- 
structed at the Hotel de Ville, I addressed the Trades' 
Companies, requesting them to retire in good order.* 
They replied by a burst of acclamation in compliment 
to the Provisional Government, and immediately 
putting themselves in motion, proceeded with a calm 
solemnity that was truly admirable towards the column 
of the Bastille, and across the astounded and silent 
capital. The procession defiled for several hours and 
it was five o'clock, says the Moniteur* before the last of 
the one hundred and fifty-thousand men who composed 
it, passed from before the front of the Hotel de Ville. 

* Moniteur, 18th of March, 1848. 




The 17 th of March had appeared to the Royalists 
like the revelation of a new world. More alarming to 
them, even than the rattle of the fusillade, or the roll 
of cannon through the streets, was that grand silence 
of the people. In their sleepless nights, they mused 
on those grave legions issuing from hundreds of fra- 
ternal workshops, and again saw them traversing Paris, 
mute and thoughtful. What a force for Statesmen 
really imbued with the true spirit of the Revolution. 
But the lever of Archimedes would be powerless in the 
hands of men obstinately bent on proving the world 
immovable. The truth is, the 17th of March 
had sorely troubled the majority of the Provisional 
Government, especially M. de Lamartine, and the 
influence of that day was still, as it were, alive in the 
Council. There were still seven members on one side, 
and four on the other ; but behind these four the 17 th 
of March brought on the scene a fifth voter — the 
people ! M. Cremieux a man of generous emotions, 
and of a spirit impressionably sensitive, was, of all the 
members of the majority in the Council, the only one 
inclined to make a close alliance with the Revo- 


lution. M. Arago, who had been too much removed 
from politics by his labours in science, drew back aghast 
at the suddenness and uncertainty of events. M. Du- 
pont (de l'Eure), one of those men whom everybody 
respects and loves, whether friend or foe, hesitated 
between the natural apprehensions of old age, and 
the sympathies of his heart and of his principles. 
MM. Gamier Pages and Marrast disguised their un- 
easiness under an adroit affectation of levity ; and as 
for M. Marie, his fears were stamped in anxious lines 
upon his contracted lips, his knitted brow, and his 
suspicious looks. 

With regard, to M. de Lamartine, he bore a grudge 
against the demonstration of the 17th of March, 
for having been the work of the delegates of the Lux- 
embourg, at whose suggestion that vast, pacific, and 
powerful army of the working men's companies had 
displayed itself before the Government. Although he 
had so prodigally courted and caressed all parties ; 
although he had staked so deeply in order to win the 
approbation of the clubs as a sort of popular letter of 
credit on the admiration of the salons ; although he had 
kept up almost uninterrupted relations with Sobrier, 
and had not even shrunk from contact with Blanqui 
— nevertheless, he had always betrayed a blind obsti- 
nate hostility to the Luxembourg. Must we suppose 
that he was averse to the official discussion of Socialism, 
lest it should divert public attention, and that, having 
chosen the theatrical part of the Revolution, he re- 
sented its serious realities? Or was he urged by his 
fawners to resist a popularity counter to his own ? For 


my own part, I have always believed that the opposition 
with which M. de Lamartine generally honoured me 
was perfectly loyal, disinterested, and sincere. Being 
a total stranger to the science of Political Economy, he 
had conceived a real distrust of doctrines which he had 
never studied, and which, besides, his peculiar intel- 
lectual organisation was little qualified to apprehend. 

Surrounded by selfish flatterers who detested the 
bare name of Socialist doctrine, because they understood 
it too clearly, he, on the contrary, deemed it dangerous 
because he was thoroughly ignorant of its meaning, 
and it is more just to pity than to blame him. 

Moreover, he was plied with the incense of the 
salons. Speculating on his weak point — love of praise 
— the enemies of the Republic never ceased repeating 
that they looked to him for what they styled the -* safety 
of society." And he abandoned himself so completely 
to this dangerous intoxication of flattery, that it was to 
the very persons who, by education, position, and habits, 
were most opposed to Republican institutions, he went 
to seek the motives and rules of his conduct. Lord 
Normanby's book makes it impossible to have any 
longer a doubt on this point. What could be more 
extraordinary than that a member of the Provisional 
Government, a Republican, one of the leaders of a 
democratic Revolution, should select as his confidant 
and habitual adviser a foreign diplomatist, a member 
of the English aristocracy, the ambassador of a country 
which had not yet even officially recognised the Republic, 
— in one word, a man who, in his book, says : " I told M. 
de Lamartine yesterday, that if I were a Frenchman 


and a Republican, and I was as little the one as the 
other, etc I " * 

I was not, at that time, aware, as regards the par- 
ticular steps taken by M. de Lamartine, of all I have 
since learnt ; I did not know, for instance, that he was 
endeavouring to find in the army and in the provinces 
the means of overawing Paris, just as the Girondists 
had done in the first French Revolution ; I did not 
know that, while taking under his protection the fan- 
tastic and anomalous military establishment of Sobrier, 
he despatched secret emissaries to General Negrier, 
whp in the north commanded an army of 29,000 men,f 
and concerted measures with M. Marrast to change 
the Hotel de Ville into a fortress. But what I did see 
clearly enough was, that the majority of the Council 
was giving way more and more to groundless prejudices 
agaiust the people, and was not far from having recourse 
to bayonets against the daily increasing power of pacific 
ideas, which it would have been much better to 

These tendencies of the majority, known to the 
public, awakened the spirit of re-actien. 

A month had now elapsed since the 17th of 
March. Encouraged by the impassible moderation of 
the Provisional Government, the vanquished parties 
were already beginning to count their numbers and to 
vent their anger audibly. As for the Royalist press, it 
took advantage of the impunity which it had enjoyed from 

* " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 338. 
t "History of the Provisional Government," by M. Elias Regnault, 
"Chef de Cabinet " of the Minister of the Interior at that time, p. 247. 



the first to attack, insult, and calumniate incessantly, 
and to denounce to the execration of the present and 
future age, the authority of those very men who, it 
well knew, were resolved to respect the presence of 
liberty even in the persons of their calumniators. 

On the other hand, the representatives of the working 
men's corporations were waiting with an increasing but 
justifiable impatience to see the Government take 
their sufferings in hand. They reproached a Govern- 
ment born of a Revolution with shrinking from a 
problem, the solution of which was the be all and the 
end all of the Revolution itself; and when they turned 
their eyes to the rural and provincial populations half 
sunk in darkness, they began to fear that, after 
all, their hopes and aspirations might be lost in the 
ballot urns beneath the overwhelming numbers of votes 
emerging from ignorance, chance, pressure, intimidation, 
or intrigue. It was felt to be urgent therefore, to sus- 
tain and encourage the Provisional Government with 
unequivocal demonstrations of sympathy, and at the 
same time to impel them to take a generous initiative, 
and remind them that among their manifold anxieties, 
how to destroy pauperism ought to hold the first 

Such was the state of things, when I received a letter 
from M. Guinard, who was second in command to 
General Courtais in the National Guard, informing me 
that the Staff of the National Guard was in process of 
formation ; and that it had been thought expedient to 
include in it fourteen officers belonging to the working 
class. All that now remained was to proceed at once 


to the election of these fourteen officers by their 

It appeared to me that this occurrence afforded a 
favourable opportunity of proving to the majority of 
the Council that, in pressing upon them the solution of 
questions having reference to the improvement of the 
working classes, I was really the organ of a popular 
desire, and one which proceeded from a want acutely 

It was therefore agreed between the delegates of the 
Luxembourg and myself, that, after electing the four- 
teen officers who were to form part of the staff, the 
workmen should proceed in good order, as on the 17th 
of March, towards the Hotel de Ville, to carry to the 
Provisional Government at once the expression of their 
wishes, and that of their sympathies — the latter to be 
testified by a patriotic offering. 

This is undeniable ; it is proved in the Moniteur* 
on the face of the petition the working men were to 
present at the Hotel de Ville. It was as follows : — 

" Citizens, the re-action raises its head ; calumny, 
the favourite weapon of unprincipled and dishonourable 
men, is on all sides assailing with its venemous false- 
hoods the true friends of the people. It is for us, the 
men of the Revolution, men of action and devotedness, 
to declare to the Provisional Government that the 
people decree the Democratic Republic ; that the people 
desire the abolition of man's servitude to man; that 
the people desire the organisation of labour by associa- 

* Monltcur of the 17th of April, 1848. 


tion. ' Vive la Republique ! Vive le Gouvernement Pro- 


f » 

The concluding words which summed up, as it 
were, the spirit of the petition — the recommendation 
to the working men to assemble unarmed — the asso- 
ciated offering brought by many poor men to the 
Commonwealth — the preconcerted measures to prevent 
persons alien to the manifestation from attempting, as 
on the 17th of March, to alter its character and its 
object — all these evidences prove bej^ond dispute, that 
it was very far from the design of the assembled 
working men to overthrow a part of the Government. 
They simply demanded the organisation of labour on 
associative principles ; but it was this that the enemies 
and the false friends of the Revolution equally feared 
and detested. 

As far as I was concerned, I acted in all this with 
such perfect candour and openness of purpose, that, on 
the 14th of April, two days before the manifestation 
was to take place, I went to the Council for the express 
purpose of informing my colleagues of what was going 
on, and apprising them that the operatives were about 
to present a petition which would remove every doubt, 
on their part, of the moral necessity of attending to 
this measure, without which the Republic would be 
but an empty word and a fraud. I added that, at all 
events, there was nothing to apprehend from this 
demonstration ; that it would be quite as pacific as that 
of the 17th of March; that every precaution was taken 
to prevent disorders, and that the pass-word given to 
the working men was " Long live the Provisional 


Government" without distinction of majority or minority. 
But, alas ! T must say it, these assurances had not the 
effect I intended. The idea of a wish emanating from 
the people, and expressed in a calm, respectful, and 
even sympathising manner, but expressed on behalf of 
views which found no favour with them, frightened 
MM. de. Lamartine, Marrast, and Marie, causing them 
more fear than they would have felt at the idea of 
an armed attack ; and they resolved to leave no stone 
unturned to deprive the demonstration of its moral 

The surest way to achieve this, was to make the bour- 
geoisie believe that the intended procession of operatives 
was connected with a communist conspiracy, and more 
especially with M. Blanqui, to whom the kind of 
mystery with which it was his study to envelop himself 
imparted the proportions of an enormous scarecrow. 

M. Marrast, in consequence, made himself very busy 
in circulating the gloomy intelligence throughout the 
National Guard, that it was the intention of the opera- 
tives to overthrow the Provisional Government on the 
16th of April; that the movement had a communist 
character, and that the chiefs of the revolt were MM. 
Cabet and Blanqui. 

If ever fable were absurd, it was this. 

In the first # place, M. Cabet was a man opposed to 
all insurrectionary violence, not only from temperament, 
but on principle ; nor could there be any misapprehen- 
sion on this point in Paris, because on the second day 
of the Revolution of February he had placarded every 
wall in the metropolis with the following proclamation, 

m. cabet's proclamation. 319 

which some of my readers it is possible will not peruse 
without astonishment, especially such of them as have 
been designedly and mendaciously imbued with the 
opinion that the Communists were men of violence : — 

" Let us rally round the Provisional Government 
presided over by Dupont de FEure, and which replaces 
the odious government so recently stained with the 
blood of citizens. 

" Let us support this Provisional Government, which 
declares itself republican and democratic : which adopts 
fraternity, equality, and liberty for its principles, and 
the People for its device and watchword : and which 
dissolves the Chambers to convoke the National 
Assembly, whose office it will be to give to France the 
constitution she demands. 

"But let us take care ourselves constantly to insist 
upon the consequences of these principles. 

" Let us demand that all Frenchmen be declared 
brethren; equal in duties and in rights without any 
kind of privilege : all members of the National Guard : 
all electors and eligible to all the public functions, 
without any vile pecuniary conditions. 

" Let us demand the natural and imprescriptible 
right of association, of meeting, and of discussion : 
individual liberty without the arbitrary control of any 
man : the liberty of the press without hindrance* 
without caution -money, or stamp. 

" Let us especially demand the guarantee of all the 
rights and all the interests of working-men : the formal 
recognition of the right to live working, so that the 
father of a family be no more reduced to the terrible 


necessity of abandoning his wife and his children to go 
and die fighting. 

" Let us demand the organisation of labour, and the 
assurance of a fair livelihood by fair work. 

"Let us demand the suppression of all taxes on 
objects of primary necessity. 

" Let us demand the abolition of those humiliating, 
vexatious, and iniquitous contrivances, — the Customs 
and the Octroi (taxes levied on provisions brought into 

" Let us demand for the people a system of educa- 
tion, gratuitous, common to all, real and complete. 

" Let us demand institutions and guarantees for the 
happiness of wives and children, so that every man 
may have a chance of marrying with a prospect of 
being able to rear up his family in happiness and 

" Faithful to our principles of fraternity, humanity, 
and moderation, let us always proclaim, and in all 
places — no vengeance ! no disorder ! no violence ! no 
oppression towards any person ! but firmness, vigilance, 
and prudence, that we may obtain justice for all ! 

"No attack upon property, but unshaken persever- 
ance in requiring all measures consistent with justice 
for the suppression of pauperism, and especially, as one 
of these, the democratic policy of gradually abating 

" Let us beware of demanding the immediate appli- 
cation of our communist doctrines. We have never 
ceased to affirm that we desire their triumph through 
discussion only, through conviction, through the power 


M. BLANQUI. 321 

of public opinion, by individual consent, and by the 
national will. 


"Paris, 25t7i February." 

So much for the Communist conspiracy. As to the 
part so cleverly assigned to M. Blanqui, the better to 
frighten the bourgeoisie, it is necessary to know that 
there never was anything in common between the 
delegates of the Luxembourg and M. Blanqui. 

As to myself personally, I repeat I never had with 
him any kind of relation, either direct or indirect ; and 
I was the less inclined to make his acquaintance, 
because the recent discovery of a document, until 
then unknown, had drawn upon him, precisely at that 
moment, the suspicions of a considerable portion of the 
Republican party, and of that portion amongst which I 
reckoned my best friends. The document in question 
was a paper addressed to the government of Louis 
Philippe, containing a minute disclosure of all that had 
occurred in a secret society of which M. Blanqui was 
one, together withM.Barbes, Martin-Bernard, Raisan, 
Larnieussens, and others. This paper was no sooner 
published in the "Revue Retrospective" by M. Tas- 
chereau, into whose hands it had fallen, than an accusing 
\ cry instantly burst out against M. Blanqui. MM. 
! Barbes, Martin-Bernard, Larnieussens, and Raisan, 
declared that, except themselves, M. Blanqui was the 
only person who could have knowledge of the facts 

* This is extracted from M. Cabet's proclamation, which will be found 
in Countess d'Agoult's Histoire de la Revolution de 1848, par Daniel Stern, 
vol. ii. pp. 409—411. 



stated in the document, and the impression left by the 
whole of the circumstances upon their minds and 
numbers of others, was that he must be the author. 
Called upon to explain, M. Blanqui kept out of sight 
for a few days, and then published a defence that did 
not appear conclusive, and gave rise to a jury of 
honour, which was empowered to acquit or condemn 
him after due enquiry. 

All this took place in the week preceding the 16th of 
April, and it is easy to conceive that I, the intimate 
friend of M. Barbes, for whom I have as high an esteem 
as I ever felt for any man, was not at all disposed to 
any acquaintance with one against whom M. Barbes 
had brought an accusation still unsifted. 

Taken for granted then, that M. Blanqui was inimi- 
cally inclined against a part of the Provisional Govern- 
ment, it was surely a singular abuse of public credulity 
to mix up his name with the peaceful step which the 
operatives were about to take. I have already remarked 
on the strong interest which they, who desired at any 
price to prevent the effect of a petition presented 
in favour of the organisation of labour by 100,000 
working-men, had in producing a huge confusion of j 
ideas in the public mind. 

A very extraordinary thing is — which no one sus- 
pected at the time, and to which I will revert more at) 
length presently — that, on the 15th of April, the eve 
of the very day when the procession was to take place, j 
M. Blanqui, whom I only knew by name, but who was 
everywhere described as my accomplice, as the manj 
with whom the majority of the Government was sooi 


to come into collision, as the arch conspirator against 
whom " M. de Lamar tine was expected to save society" 
had a secret interview — with whom ? With me ? No. 
With M. de Lamartine ! * 

Now, while this was going on, M. Marrast was 
putting the Hotel de Ville into a state of defence, as 
if there were a question of sustaining a siege, giving 
military instructions to Colonel Rey, and placing at 
his disposal two battalions of the " Garde Mobile," 
recently equipped. 

This is not all. In the night of the 15th of April, 
M. Ledru Rollin was beset by a number of persons, at 
the Ministere de FInterieur, who, by dint of talking to 
him about the supposed projects of M. Blanqui, making 
use of that person's name as a sort of bugbear, and 
also by frightening him at the increased ascendency of 
the Luxembourg, succeeded in impelling him to a step, 
of which the consequences were much to be regretted, 
and have, I believe, been deeply regretted by himself 
since. As minister of the Interior, he exclusively had 
I the right of assembling the National Guard, by ordering 

11 the rappel, that is, ordering the drums to beat to arms. 
Deceived by the false rumours with which they had 
artfully gorged him, he gets up at day-break on the 
16th of April, runs to M. de Lamartine to consult 
with him on the event which was in preparation, and, 
then, persuaded by the latter, decides on giving orders 

1 for the rappel. 

][l I At this signal, the National Guard rushed out, fully 

* The particulars of this interview will be given further on. 


armed, to the Hotel de Ville, and there waited with the 
intention of forcibly resisting the working men, who, 
in the meantime, peaceably assembled in the Champ de 
Mars, thought of nothing but the collection which they 
were then making amongst themselves, as an offering 
to the Provisional Government. 

It had been arranged that on the 16th of April, a 
Council at which all the members of the Government 
should assist, was to be held at the Ministry of Finance, 
in the Rue Rivoli. To our great surprise, M. de Lamar- 
tine was missing. We learned that he had gone on to 
the Hotel de Ville, and we thought it our duty to 
follow him. As we did not go in a body, I walked 
with my colleague Albert. 

What then had happened in the meanwhile ? In his 
Letter to Ten Departments, M. de Lamartine relates 
that, at six in the morning, certain zealous individuals 
had come to warn him that the Clubs had passed the 
night in deliberation, and declared themselves en perma- 
nence; that a Committee of Public Safety had been 
proclaimed, consisting of a few members of the Pro- 
visional Government, nominated without their privity 
or consent, and of certain agitators whose names were 
invested at that moment with a sort of power out of 
doors; that these clubs and their affiliations were 
about to march at the head of the working men as- 
sembled in the Champ de Mars to elect their officers, 
to lead them to the Hotel de Ville, and there effect 
the overthrow of the existing government.* 

* Moniteur of the 17th of April, 1843. 


Strange news, indeed ! Here were thousands of 
working men accused of furnishing an army of con- 
spirators against the Government ; and every man of 
this army had left his musket at home ! These factious 
and violent men who were coming to besiege the Hotel 
de Ville, were bringing a patriotic offering in a car ! 
These insurgents who had resolved to overthrow the 
Government, concluded the petition which they came 
to submit, with the words Vive le Gouvernement Pro- 

No ; it is not true that the working men had been 
convoked with any design of conspiracy, or that the 
Government was exposed, on that day, to the slightest 
risk. What is true is, that the counter-revolution 
which was then hiding everywhere, even in the cor- 
ridors of the Hotel de Ville, w T as interested in trans- 
forming a hundred thousand peaceful petitioners into 
a hundred thousand conspirators, in order to afford a 
pretext for the violent intervention of the National 
Guard. At all hazards, it Avas determined to destroy 
the impression created by the 17th of March, and, the 
better to succeed in doing this, what could be more 
simple than to confront unarmed operatives with an 
armed force ? But for this, the rappel must be sounded 
on some pretext or other. Now, the pretext was no 
other than the artfully spread rumours of a vast 
conspiracy, of the creation of a Committee of Public 
Safety, and of the intended overthrow of the Pro- 
visional Government. 

The fact is, that after the 16th of April, I made a 
formal demand that an official inquiry should be in- 


stituted into this plot of which so much had been said. 
This demand, supported by M. Ledru Rollin, was ac- 
corded, and M. Landrin was commissioned to prosecute 
the inquiry. We charged him to make a full and 
searching inquiry into the pretended plots of these 
pretended conspirators. I felt perfectly certain before- 
hand that the result would be to unmask an intrigue of 
the counter-revolutionary party. And the result of the 
inquiry was, that the revolutionary conspiracy of the 
16th of April proved to be a false alarm, to say nothing 

To tell the whole truth, the pretended panic con- 
cealed a real distrust. What was secretly but actually 
dreaded was, the ascendancy of the Luxembourg Com- 
mission, the moral effect of a second 17th of March, 
the spectacle of a demonstration all the more im- 
posing for being a peaceful one, the review, in short, 
of the forces of Socialism. 

Such is the true meaning of the measures taken by 
M. de Lamartine on the morning of the 16th of April, 
and which would have been of no significance, had not 
M. Ledru Rollin, deluded by false reports, ordered the 
rappel to be beaten. 

How shall I describe my grief, and that of Albert, 
when, on our approach to the Hotel de Ville, we beheld 
the Place de Greve bristling with bayonets, and the 
Hotel itself converted into a fortress ! Why, we asked 
ourselves, all this warlike preparation ? Against what 
and whom these threatening preparations? Was it 
against these poor working-men who were, at that very 
moment, bringing to the Government a patriotic offer- 


ing, collected from their last centimes ? Was it against 
these unarmed petitioners who, with the cry " Vive La 
Republique!" on their lips, were coming respectfully to 
present as sacred and legitimate a demand as ever men 

A mysterious Committee of Public Safety had been 
talked of, and Blanqui had been named ; but even if it 
were true that a knot of agitators had conspired to over- 
throw the majority in the Council, how could they suc- 
ceed without the aid of the working-men assembled in 
the Champ de Mars ? Now, we knew well that this aid 
had not so much as been asked for; why then, and 
against whom, were these warlike preparations ? 

Gloomy and bitter was the anxiety of Albert and 
myself as we entered the Hotel de Ville. It presented 
a singular spectacle. Distrust was manifest in ever}?- 
face, and vague foreboding. Some were rushing about in 
wild excitement; others, rooted to the spot and aghast, 
regarded with a sort of stupor this causeless agitation. 

Wading through the ebb and flow of armed men 
who flooded the staircases and passages, we penetrated 
into the Council-room, where we found M. de Lamar- 
tine engaged in writing. To the observations we 
addressed to him, he replied, not as he has since 
supposed, "with an air of proud and ill- disguised 
anger" * but, on the contrary, with extreme polite- 
ness, and that reserve which the character of the two 
men who addressed him was entitled to produce. For 
he knew us both well. 

See his History of the French Revolution, vol. ii. 


Nor did anything occur on this occasion to justify 
the boasts of M. de Lamartine to Lord Normanby, 
as revealed by the latter in the following passage : — - 
" Lamartine recommended silence to M. Louis Blanc, 
as, if he provoked him to speak, he might find that 
he knew things which he would wish concealed, and 
M. Louis Blanc submitted, without reply, to the in- 
sinuation." * 

Why and to what degree this was impossible, will 
be presently seen, when we come to explain who the 
person was who had an interest in concealment ! 

During that time, unknown persons were going 
about the city spreading rumours, ingeniously cal- 
culated, to create commotion. About mid-day, a man 
rushed to the Luxembourg, reporting that I had 
been stabbed at the club de l'Hippodrome; and before j 
he could be questioned, the lying newsmonger had j 
made off. Almost at the same moment, we heard j 
that a messenger on horseback was riding hurriedly ' 
through the Faubourg du Temple, with the news that jj 
I had been assassinated. The drummers, who were jl 
beating the rappel in the Faubourg St. Marceau, were 1 
telling the same story aloud. A cry passed through j 
the streets, "The Luxembourg is threatened ; " and |j 
hereupon followed a movement and trepidation which i j 
might have led to the greatest disasters. A company of 
brave students ran to the Luxembourg, to offer their \i 
services, and remained on guard there till the Tuesday , 
evening. Presently, the Committee of the Societe des I \ 

* A Year of Revolution in Taris, vol. i. p. 326. 


Droits de P Homme, sent word that several permanent 
guards had been established in the eleventh and 
twelfth arrondissements, and that, at the first signal, 
3,000 men, armed, would occupy the Court of the 

In another quarter of Paris, in the Champ de Mars, 
emissaries had secretly received orders to stir up the 
working-classes, and to tarn a peaceful demonstration 
into a revolt. The mot d'ordre was, " Ledru Ptollin has 
been hanged, and Louis Blanc assassinated "* — an exe- 
crable provocation to civil war, which might indeed have 
been only too successful, if, fortunately, the delegates 
of the Luxembourg had not been on the spot ! 

The Hotel de Ville, as I have already described, 
had been turned into a fortress, and was defended 
by the National Guard with fixed bayonets. When 
the trade-companies approached the Place de Greve, 
in the same order of procession, and with the same 
peaceful air as on the 17th of March, the National 
Guard barred their passage, and it was with great 
difficulty that' even their delegates were able to reach 
the Hotel de Ville. I was there with my colleagues 
in the Council-room, when the door was opened, 
and a voice announced that the delegates of the 
companies had made their appearance; that they 
talked of appealing from the insult that had been 
offered them, to the indignation of the people ; and 
insisted violently on seeing me. I instantly hastened 
to meet them, followed by one of my colleagues, 

* Gazette des Tribunaux of the 24th of March ; "Trial at Bourges ;" 
Declaration of Klein. 

330 THE AliAKUM. 

M. Crernieux, and we found them certainly in a state 
of inexpressible indignation. "What!" they ex- 
claimed with vehemence, when they perceived me, 
" we come here to assure the Government of our 
sympathy and support ; we come without arms to 
express our wishes ; we come preceded by a car, 
bearing the offering of our last resources to the wants 
of the Republic ; and we are received as conspirators, 
and we are barred access to the Place de Greve ! And 
to the deputies of the people, the agents of the Mayor 
of Paris offer nothing but an insulting reception ! M 

These indignant exclamations were but too well justi- 
fied; nevertheless, I did my best to calm them with 
conciliatory words. Attributing to the false rumours 
that had been spread the motive of these insulting 
preparations, and of the reception which they so 
bitterly inveighed against, I made every effort to divert 
from the Provisional Government a responsibility 
that might have led to civil war. As the delegates 
demanded why the working-men were prevented from 
defiling in procession in front of the Hotel de Ville, I 
summoned Colonel Rev, and gave him orders to make 
every arrangement for facilitating the demonstration. 
It was necessary to clear a way through the files of the 
National Guards who lined the Place de Greve ; and 
I recommended Colonel Rey to clear a passage along 
the front of the Hotel de Ville. But every legal 
attempt at conciliation was defeated by the ill-will 
which was secretly encouraged by the obscure emis- 
saries of the Mayor of Paris, hidden in the crowd. The 
working-men, all unarmed, were obliged to defile be- 


tween two compact masses of National Guards, fully 
armed, in a long and narrow line, which, moreover, was 
designedly intercepted every few minutes, in order to 
deprive it of its naturally imposing effect. As I stood 
with my colleagues at a window of the Hotel de Yille, 
I looked from a distance at thousands of hats raised in 
the air, thousands of arms waving a salute ; but the 
cries of affectionate enthusiasm and fraternal hopeful- 
ness from these working-men scarcely reached our ears, 
interrupted as they were by a cry of hate, the first 
which the counter-revolutionary party had raised as 
yet : " A has les Communistes ! " 

After the procession had passed, and. when the 
National Guard had almost imperceptibly dispersed, an 
immense crowd of people invaded the Place de Greve, 
and took possession of every inch of the square. Let 
me describe the scene that ensued, in the words of the 
Moniteur : — 

" About five o'clock, on a rumour that the lives of 
certain members of the Provisional Government had been 
threatened, an immense crowd surrounded the Hotel 
de Ville, and demanded loudly to see them. As soon 
as they caught sight of them at one of the wiudows, the 
people testified their joy with loud acclamations. Among 
the deputations, there was one which had come all the 
way from the Commune d'lvry, impelled by the same 
anxiety. They entered unarmed, and earnestly called for 
citizen Louis Blanc. On his appearance before them, the 
deputation greeted his presence with enthusiasm." * 

* Moniteur of the 17th of April, 1848. 


Such was the partial disappointment of those who 
had fondly calculated on the effect of false alarms. 
But they had at least succeeded in troubling the 
demonstration — a sorry attempt indeed, which but for 
the accident of the rappel being beaten by mistake, 
must have altogether miserably failed. 

It was now night. Of all the members of the 
Government, none continued at the Hotel de Ville, 
save my colleague M. Flocon, and myself. On the Place 
de Greve, a few belated groups only remained of all that 
tumultuous multitude. Yet the cry, "Death to the Com- 
munists," still resounded all the clearer and louder as 
the crowd diminished; and M. Flocon made a remark to 
me which threw a gloomy light on the passing events. 
" Do you see," he said to me, pointing out, as he spoke, 
about a hundred ill-looking men who stood with their 
backs against the railing of the Hotel de Ville, " do 
you see these men ? They have been there since the 
morning. I have observed them attentively, and I 
have no doubt at all that they belong to some private 
police. That green-spectacled individual whom you 
perceive in the centre of the group, is their chief, and 
it is at a signal given by him that their cries are 

All of a sudden, we heard a sound of drums. It 
was a legion of National Guards approaching by torch- 
light. I went down to the Place with M. Flocon, 
to see them pass, and I noticed that the individuals 
ranged against the railing, kept up those shouts of 
death and hatred, which were to echo throughout 
Paris. I walked straight up to one of the wretches, 


and said sharply to him : " Why do these men whose 
death you cry for, deserve to die ? " He stammered 
out that he knew nothing about it, that he cried out 
because he was ordered to do so ; and then disappeared 
in the crowd. M. Flocon asked a similar question, 
and (if I am not mistaken), got the same reply. 

Such was the first campaign of the counter-revolu- 
tion against Socialism. 

On the following day, the delegates of the Luxem- 
bourg, moved by a generous and natural indignation, 
carried to the Hotel de Ville the following protest, an 
historical document of the highest importance.* 

" Citizens, — 

" Our demonstration yesterday, has given rise to 
counter-revolutionary manoeuvres, and to a thousand 
false reports; and even, to-day, it is described in cer- 
tain journals with the most dangerous and absurd com- 

" On the other hand, the false rumours which pre- 
ceded our arrival before the Hotel de Ville yesterday, 
occasioned a misunderstanding which it is our duty to 
explain as clearly as possible. 

" We begin by affirming on our honour, that the one 
sole object of our assembling in the Champ de Mars, to 
proceed thence to the Hotel de Ville, was as follows : — 

"1. To elect fourteen from amongst us to form part 
of the staff of the National Guard. 

"2. To prove that the ideas of organisation of 

* Montour of the 19th of April, 1848. 


labour and of association, so courageously upheld by 
the men who have devoted themselves to our cause, 
are the chief objects of the people ; and that, in their 
opinion, the Revolution of February would be abortive, 
if it did not result in putting an end to the servi- 
tude of man to man (a F exploitation de Vhomme par 
Vhomme) . 

" 3. Finally, to offer to the Provisional Government, 
after having expressed our wants, the support of our 
patriotism against the reactionists. 

"These were our intentions, clearly enough ex- 
pressed on the banners of our corporations, in the 
text of the petition presented by our deputies at the 
Hotel de Ville, and no less unmistakeably evinced by 
the unalterable calmness of our attitude, and by the 
offering brought by us to the Provisional Government 
of the Republic. 

" How is it then that the National Guard had re- 
ceived an extraordinary summons to assemble in arms 
as on a day of danger? How is it that, before the 
arrival of our representatives and friends, citizens 
Louis Blanc and Albert, our delegates, encountered 
a reception that had all the appearance of hostility ? 

" We know the reason, and we will here declare 

"Precisely because they were well aware how calm, 
how thoroughly republican and in favour of the popular 
Revolution of February, this demonstration of ours was 
to be, the reactionists first spread the rumour that wc 
intended to overthrow the Provisional Government for 
the advantage of citizen Blanqui j so as to excite 


against us all those who see in the existence of the 
Provisional Government a guarantee of order and of 

"At the same time, the emissaries of the reaction 
went hawking about the monstrous calumny that 
citizens Louis Blanc and Blanqui had encouraged us 
to sever with violence (a scinder violemment) the Pro- 
visional Government : a calumny against which we 
protest with all the strength of our heartfelt in- 

" Had we been desirous of overthrowing the Pro- 
visional Government, we should not have assembled in 
the Champ de Mars, unarmed ; we should have taken 
measures to meet, not to the number of 100,000, as 
we did yesterday, but to the number of 200,000, as 
we easily might have done. 

" Finally, we should not have made amongst us the 
collection which we carried to the Hotel de Ville, nor 
have concluded our petition with these words — ' Vive le 
Gouvernement Provisoire.' 

" It is well we should declare this in the face of all. 

"We deem it right, moreover, to denounce as a 
proof of the manoeuvres employed by certain agents of 
the reaction, the spreading of a report of an attempt 
on the life of citizen Louis Blanc — a report spread, 
without doubt, with the intention of creating disorder; 
fortunately, however, we knew it at once to be false, 
and its only effect w r as to prove to all how intimate and 
profound is the union, in spite of all the reactionists 
may say, of the people and of the men in whom the 
people put their trust. 


" We wish it to be well known, therefore, that there 
was no real cause for alarm, yesterday. The people 
know their strength, and can afford to be calm. They 
are ready to defend the Revolution, according to their 
sense of what it ought to be ; under their safeguard, it 
will not perish. 

"We confide this Protest to the Provisional Go- 
vernment, and we pray them to make it public. 

"Paris, 17th April, 1848. 

" The Delegates of the Trade-companies, 
" Lagarde, President of the Central Committee, 
"Dumond, Godin, Vice-presidents, 
" A. Lefaure, Secretary/*' 

Although this vigorous protest amounted to a formal 
condemnation of the proceedings resorted to by MM. de 
Lamartine and Marrast, neither of them dared to 
object to its being officially published, and it appeared 
in the Moniteur of the 19th of April, where any one 
may find it. 

The 16th of April had not completely answered the 
expectations of the men who had so imprudently sown 
the seeds of hatred and discord ; but the parties van- 
quished in February had recovered their voice, and were 
evidently preparing for bolder attempts. 

It was, therefore, urgent to repair as much as possible 
the evil already accomplished, by adopting energetic 
measures, calculated to act strongly upon public 
opinion, and to prove that the Revolution was still 
living, that it had its eye upon its enemies, and that 
it was determined neither to abdicate nor to vield. 


Hence the appearance of several decrees in the Moni- 
teur of the 19th April, which were clearly designed to 
strengthen the action of the Revolution ; hence the 
official warning indicating under what regulations 
strictly enforced, the right of having the rappel beaten 
I was to be placed henceforth, seeing that the unseason- 
able and irregular beating of the rappel " was likely 
to create trouble in the city, to spread alarm among 
i the public, to injure trade, labour; and industry, 
I and to harass the National Guard uselessly; " and hence, 
finally, a proclamation which I myself drew up, and 
which was couched in the following unequivocal terms. 
" Convinced that the rights of the human conscience 
are sacred and inviolable ; that among true Republicans, 
I there cannot exist any other contest than discussion, 
; generous and free ; that the union of minds is sure to 
: follow close upon the union of hearts ; that none but the 
1 enemies of the Republic can be interested in spreading 
distrust, and in provoking dissensions by party deno- 
minations which are readily construed into personal 
enmities ; 

" The Provisional Government declare that they dis- 
approve, in the most formal manner, of all cries of 
provocation, of all appeals to discord among citizens, 
of all attacks upon the independence of peaceful 

"The Government who have inscribed Fraternity 
on the national flag, cannot but be a tutelary and 
conciliatory authority. The cry they delight to hear, 
and of which they will be always found ready to give 
the signal, is a cry of generous victory, a cry of 


liberty, a cry of hope ; it is that saving cry, ' Vive la 
Republique !'"* 

This proclamation, written by my hand, was signed 
by all the members of the Provisional Government, 
and met with no opposition, either from M. de Lamar- 
tine or M. Marrast. 

The attitude assumed on the morning of the 16th of 
April by the Provisional Government, astounded the 
counter-revolutionary factions, and for a few days held 
them in check ; but, at the sound of that fatal rappel, 
they had risen, and from that time they never ceased 
to conspire. The result was soon to come ; we know it 
now too well ! 

I have already mentioned that, on the eve of the 16th 
of April, M. de Lamartine had a secret interview with the 
reputed arch-contriver of plots, M. Blanqui. M. Albert, 
having become acquainted with the fact, came and 
told me of it at the Luxembourg. On my expressing 
my doubts of the possibility of this being true, he 
proposed to me to go to the Council, engaging to 
prove it before M. de Lamartine' s face. Accordingly, 
I went with him. As soon as we took our seats, 
M. Albert, in a plain straightforward way, said to M. de 
Lamartine : " Sir, you have seen Blanqui." Every- 
body in the Council looked perfectly astonished. Con- 
fused for a moment, but immediately recovering him 
self, M. de Lamartine smiled, and answered in a light 
nonchalant way : " Ah ! quite true, I had forgotten to 
tell you, gentlemen. Well, after all, this Blanqi 

* Moniteur of the 19th of April. 


they make such a terrible fuss about, is really a capital 
fellow ! " 

That there was an interview, and that it took place 
at this very significant and important date, the 15th of 
April, will be placed beyond possibility of doubt by 
the following extract from the evidence tendered at the 
trial of Blanqui and others before the High Court of 
Bourges, when accused of having taken part in the 
attack upon the National Assembly on the 15th of 
May, 1848. 

M. de Lamartine, appearing as a witness, was thus 
examined by M, Blanqui : 

"Is it true that you came to me, as reported by 
some newspapers, wearing a cuirass, as though I had 
been a bravo? 1 ' 

Citizen Lamartine. — " I must say that at this 
time I was not acquainted with Citizen Blanqui. The 
strong prejudice against him, which, as he has told 
you, produced its effect a little later, was shared, to 
a certain extent, by me. I knew Citizen Blanqui only 
as a man of remarkable character and intelligence. 
I happened to be acquainted with Citizen Deflotte, a 
retired naval officer, who was intimate with Blanqui, 
and, I believe, a member of his club. I begged him 
frankly to tell me without reservation what he thought 
of Blanqui ; if so fine an intelligence were not weary 
of bloody revolutions, and of being condemned to be 
incessantly whirling in the vortex of agitation. Deflotte 
replied that I was under a serious misapprehension ; that 
Blanqui was animated by the best feelings, of which I 
could easily convince myself by an interview with him. 

z 2 


"A few days afterwards, Citizen Blanqui came to 
see me, and with a smile on his face ; I went up to 
him, and giving him my hand, said in allusion to the 
absurd reports spread by the newspapers : ' Well ! 
Citizen Blanqui, have you come to assassinate me?' I 
took him into my study, where we had a conversation 
that lasted three hours, of the most interesting kind 
on the part of M. Blanqui. We passed in review 
every matter of serious import that was then engaging 

" I feel it right to say that, upon all these points, 
property, the family, the necessity for a strong and 
undivided government, the necessity of concentrating 
all power in the National Assembly, and of respecting 
and enforcing respect to the National Assembly, the 
result of universal suffrage the expression of the 
popular will, I was happy to hear from Citizen Blanqui 
sound ideas brilliantly expressed. 

" And yet he was not under any constraint what- 
ever; we conversed upon perfectly equal terms. I 
had on my side moral force ; he had on his, the power 
of public agitation. The result of this conversation 
was to leave upon me a favourable impression, and to 
inspire me with just esteem for the intentions and 
character of Citizen Blanqui.'" 

The Procureur. — " What was the date of this 
conversation ? " 

Citizen Blanqui.— " The 15th of April." 

Citizen Lamartine. — " I think Citizen Blanqui is 
in error ; it was some time before this." 

Citizen Blanqui.— " I beg pardon; permit mc to 


recall a fact to you, which will refresh your recollection. 
In the course of our conversation, an allusion was made 
to an article against me which had just appeared in 
the Revue Retrospective" 

Citizen Lamartine. — " True." 

Citizen Blanqui. — " Well, my reply to that was on 
the 13th of April." 

Citizen Lamartine. — " Yes, but it was not yet 
printed, which would throw our interview ten or twelve 
days back." 

Citizen Blanqui. — "My reply was not printed, 
but it was of the reply itself we were speaking. Here 
is Flotte, at whose house I was lodging, who, if the 
jury would be good enough to hear his evidence, can 
clear up this point." 

Citizen Flotte. — " It was Deflotte who desired me 
to tell Blanqui that you (Lamartine) would receive 
him; Blanqui went to your house on the morning of 
the 15th of April." 

Citizen Lamartine. — "You are mistaken. Had 
it been so, I must necessarily have spoken of what 
was to happen the next day, and must have en- 
deavoured to divert him from having anything to do 
with it." 

. Citizen Blanqui. — "Here is General Courtais, who 
by chance was made aware of this visit, and who can 
speak to it." 

Citizen President. — " Speak, General." 

Citizen Courtais. — "It was on the morning of 
the 15th, at six o'clock, that Blanqui went to Lamar- 
tine. A person, who saw Blanqui enter, mentioned 



it to me the very same day. The next morning, on my 
receiving the order to beat to arms, and being told 
that Blanqui was at the head of the manifestation, 
I said to Marrast : ' But he was at Lamartine's 
yesterday ! ' n 

Citizen Lamartine. — "I am not mathematically 
certain of the correctness of what I state, but my con- 
viction is, that General Courtais is mistaken upon this 
point, which moreover is of no kind of importance."" * 

Whether it was of importance or not, the reader, 
who knows what use was made of M. Blanqui in the 
demonstration of the 16th of April, may now judge ! 
And he may also judge, if there were a conspiracy, as 
Lord Normanby intimates on the authority of M. de 
Lamartine, who the conspirator must be.f 

Certain it is that, a few days after the 16th of April, 
the majority of the Provisional Government (Albert 
and myself were by chance absent), having despatched 
an order for Blanqui's arrest to M. Caussidiere, the 
prefect of police, this order, before it could be exe- 
cuted, was rescinded by a counter-order communicated 
through M. Landrin, attorney-general of the Republic ; 
and the cause of its being rescinded was the "obstinate 
opposition " made to it by M. de Lamartine. J 

The facts are now under the reader's eyes. It is for 
him to draw the inference. 

* Trial at Bourges before the High Court. Proceedings of the 19th of 
March, 1849. 

f " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 320. 

Z Memoires de Caussidiere, vol. ii. p. 51, where this fact and the 
counter-order will be found. 




Amongst other fatal results of the 16th of April, was 
that of so emboldening the re-actionists, that, taking 
advantage of the unlimited liberty of the press, they 
converted calumny into a system, and then put this 
system in practice with unparalleled audacity. 

Here is a specimen of the falsehoods with which the 
Constitutionnel crammed its columns : — 

" News of the Court. A breakfast took place yesterday 
at the ' Petit Trianon/ There were ladies present. 
M. Ledru Rollin did the honours. There was a 
shooting-party at Chantilly ; a stag-hunt and battues 
in the Park of Apremont." 

In answer to this, M. Ledru Rollin wrote the 
following letter to the Constitutionnel : — 

" Sir, 

" In office, as in opposition, I have always 

despised the foul personal calumnies of which I have 

been the object. It is only at such a price that a 

man can obey the dictates of his conscience. But I 

cannot overlook those slanders which are aimed at me 

as a public man, for then it is the honour of the 

Republic itself that is assailed. The day before y ester- 


day, you reported xae as going out shooting at Ram- 
bouillet; yesterday, under the head of Neivs of the 
Court, you spoke of me as being present at some female 
orgies at Trianon, and as going out shooting at 
Chantilly. The Court, I am well aware, is the dream 
which is constantly haunting you ; these dissipations 
are those of the people you represent. As far as I am 
concerned, you should know that, since the 24th of 
February, I have not quitted Paris for a single instant ; 
that, out of every twenty-four hours, twenty have been 
given up to work. If I have not done the people all 
the good I could desire, the reasons must be searched 
for in any other cause than that of any want of 
assiduousness and zeal. 

" Ledru Rollin." 

But, I repeat, calumny had become a system, and 
each day was marked by some new invention. We 
shall get an idea of the means employed against the 
Provisional Government, from the following letter 
addressed, about this time, to La Rcforme newspaper : — 

" Citizen, 

" I have just been subjected to a singular 
inquest. More than twenty persons have, this day, 
called upon me to inquire if it were true that Citizen 
Ledru Rollin had run up a bill with me of from 23 
to 80,000 francs for jewellery. I replied, as the fact 
really was, that the Minister of the Interior did not 
owe me one farthing. Nevertheless, they went away 
shrugging their shoulders, and with an incredulous 
look which I could not at all make out. "What 


possible interest could these gentlemen have in 
ascertaining whether M. Ledru Rollin owes me any- 
thing or not ? 

"Croce Spinelli." 
"12, Place de la Bourse." 

After the resignation of the Provisional Government, 
the National Assembly appointed a Commission, con- 
sisting of men opposed to the Republic, to investigate 
its accounts. What was the result ? Here it is, in the 
language of the Commission itself: — 

"We unanimously affirm that, after a long and 
searching inquiry, conducted with the greatest im- 
partiality, we have been unable to find the slightest 
trace of any irregularity on the part of the Provisional 
Government, or anything that could suggest the least 
suspicion of any malversation in administering the 
public moneys at their disposal." * 

And yet, in 1848, the re-actionist papers talked of 
nothing else but of the immense sums of public money 
pilfered by the members of the Government, and sent 
over to England for investment ! How is it possible 
to recall without deep disgust the accusations made by 
some anonymous libellers against M. Cremieux for 
having purchased a forest out of his spoliations ; and 
that there was a moment when M. Lamartine, to 
silence some infamous insinuations, found it necessary 
to submit to the public a detail of his private affairs, 
and to introduce, as it were, the passer-by into the privacy 

* Report, April 14, 1S4S, of the Commission appointed to examine into 
the accounts of the Provisional Government. 


of his family? If certain people were to be believed, there 
could be no manner of doubt that M. Marrast, during 
his two months of office, had amassed an enormous 
fortune ; and these base rumours would perhaps be in 
circulation even now, had he not replied in a manner, 
unhappily too decisive, by dying without leaving enough 
behind to bury him ! 

It will be anticipated that in this overflow of unjust 
attacks, the Luxembourg did not escape. 

It was with the greatest effrontery asserted, that in 
assuming the title of operative, M. Albert had been 
tricking the public; that he was in fact a rich manu- 
facturer, a millionnaire ! And so pertinaciously did 
they persist in this falsehood, that M. Albert was 
obliged to publish the following particulars : — 

" Albert, born in Bury (Oise) in 1S15, son of a farmer, 
was apprenticed to one of his uncles, Citizen Bibou, 
machine maker, Hue Basse-des-Ursins, No. 21. Since 
which he has been employed by several persons, of whom 
we may mention Citizen Pecqueur, machine maker, near 
the Marche Popincourt; Citizen Margox, Rue Menil- 
montant, No. 21 ; and finally, on the eve of the day on 
which the Republic was proclaimed, Citizen Albert w r as 
working as a mechanic in the button-making factory of 
Citizen Bapterouse, Bue de la Muette, No. 16, where 
his blouse and working trousers are still to be found."* 

* Monitew, May 5, 1848. Mr. Croker has also given currency to the 
story in England, that this M. Albert was a rich manufacturer, who had 
taken an important part in the troubles at Lyons, under Louis Philippe, 
and who was spoken of in my "History of Ten Years.'''' Unluckily for 
Mr. Croker he has confounded two different persons, who, although 
bearing the same name, were not in any way connected. 


Of course I, too, was swimming in wealth, although 
I had never reaped from my incessant literary occupa- 
tions, more than a bare competence. Will it be believed 
that, in Paris, where it was so easy to ascertain that I 
possessed neither house nor real property of any kind, 
the Lampion newspaper, from which other more in- 
fluential journals at that time derived their calumnies, 
actually announced, that / had forbidden the porter of 
my house in the Faubourg St. Germain to let rooms 
to working men, as I chose to have no other than rich 
tenants ? 

I will not stop here to notice the really detestable 
way in which my enemies disfigured my views; now 
ascribing to me things I never had said ; now as 
studiously suppressing some essential part of what I 
did say. The principle I had broached, not indeed as 
capable of immediate application, but as the formula of 
philosophical truth, which ought one day to become a 
rule of social actions : " From each according to his 
faculties — to each according to his wants ; " was every- 
where cited with the omission of the first part, that 
had reference to duty, and without noticing the high 
and comprehensive definition I had given of the word 
wants; so that they might accuse me of seeking for 
the regeneration of society only in the bestial satis- 
faction of the grossest appetites, and of supposing I 
meant to elevate the condition of the people by simply 
fattening them. Now, strange inconsistency ! While 
some were levelling at me a reproach founded on a 
falsification, others, on the contrary, were representing 
me as a mind chimerical to excess, as a builder of castles 


in the air, as the apostle of a state of moral perfection, 
and impossible self-denial ; because I had said that, 
in a well-organised society, the interest of each should 
be, as a consequence of good social institutions, com- 
bined with the interest of all ! 

One of the calumnies launched at the Luxembourg, 
and with all the more complacency as it tended to 
make Albert and myself obnoxious to the working- 
men, accused us of being imitators of the luxury of 
Barras. They talked of our luxurious habits, our 
delicate refined tastes, our favourite dishes, our select 
epicurean suppers in those very drawing-rooms which 
the Lucullus of the Directory had chosen as the scene 
of his revels. 

If ever lie were gross and audacious, this was. For, 
from the moment of our getting to the Luxembourg, 
we adopted a very frugal style of living, which would 
have looked like affectation but for the consideration 
that the greater part of the working men in communi- 
cation with us were literally without bread. But the 
more impudent the imposture, the more did it gratify 
newspapers, unworthy of being named, to spread and 
accredit it. 

All this excited our pity, nothing else. Why trouble 
ourselves about an accusation to whose shameful false- 
hood thousands of -eye-witnesses could depose ? Had 
* we not made of the Luxembourg a palace of glass ? 
Did not a delegate's card command the entree to us, at 
any hour of the day and night ? Were not the whole 
people, in the persons of their representatives, daily 
present at our meals? Besides, there arc certain 


accusations and adversaries, on whom it is a sort of 
luxury to any honest man they have attacked, to 
revenge himself by contempt. 

Our silence humiliated our detractors, but served 
them. Disdained by those it assaulted, greedily 
swallowed and propagated by those whose rancour had 
need of it, the calumny swept through the depart- 
ments, where it could meet no contradiction; circu- 
lated in Royalist drawing-rooms, and entered into the 
mud and filth of libels. 

But thanks be to Heaven, the triumph of what is 
unjust and vile, is only momentaiy. The Constitutionnel 
having one day made allusion to our luxuriousness, 
M. Genevay, then governor of the chateau of Versailles, 
and who was comptroller of the Luxembourg under 
the Provisional Government, wrote the following letter 
to the editor, which was inserted in that paper, on the 
2nd of June, 1848:— 

"Appointed comptroller of the National Palace of 
the Luxembourg, when this residence was allotted by 
the Provisional Government to Citizens Louis Blanc 
and Albert, I think it a matter of honour and duty to 
protest in the strongest possible manner against a 
report that has unluckily found its way into various 
newspapers and other publications. It is pretended 
that Citizens Louis Blanc and Albert spent enormous 
sums on their table ; this is either a misconception or a 
calumny. The first month, after much resistance on 
their part, the table of the two members of the Pro- 
visional Government was provided at the rate of six 
francs a-day each ; but, on the second month, Citizens 


Albert and Louis Blanc, finding the supply more than 
strictly necessary, would only sanction an expenditure 
of two francs and a-half for their breakfast, and the 
same sum for their dinner. The bills and receipts 
can be furnished at a moment's notice. 

" I remain, Sir, &c, 

"A. Geneva?."* 

Many of my readers have heard, perhaps, of a pam- 
phlet which appeared at the end of October, 1850, by 
one M. Tirel, entitled, " The Republic in the Kings Car- 
riages." What the author calls the king's carriages 
were really nothing more than state carriages. Whether 
these were ever used by my colleagues I do not know, 
and never inquired. But it seems to me quite natural 
that, at a time when we reckoned by minutes, and 
when matters of the highest import made it necessary 
to go at a moment's notice from one end of Paris to 
the other, the carriages intended for the highest officers 
of state should be placed at their disposal, in the per- 
formance of their duties. As far as I am concerned, 
what I have to say on this subject, will be found in the 
following letter, written from London, 25th of October, 
1850, to the Paris newspapers, and which, published 
by them, remained uncontradicted, no contradiction 
being possible : — 

" Sir, 

" In a pamphlet by a Monsieur Tirel, it is said 
that, while a member of the Provisional Government, I, for 

* Constitutionncl of the 2nd of June, 1848. 

the king's carriages. 351 

the space of forty days, made use of a britska, known as 
the colibri. This is what the author calls the Republic 
in the King's Carriages. The assertion is entirely false. 
When at the Hotel cle Ville, I never went out except 
on foot or in a hackney coach. At the Luxembourg, 
the only carriage I used, when I had need of one, was 
a carriage attached to the Chamber of Peers, hired 
from Bryan, Rue Basse du Rempart. 

" I have the honour, &c, 

" Louis Blanc" 

I have mentioned the newspaper called Le Lampion. 
For in this workshop were the calumnies forged, to 
which the Constitutional, the AssembUe Nationale, and 
other papers of this kind, gave the support of their in- 
fluence. Well, on the 31st of August, 185G, M. Charles 
Bataille published in the Diogene a biographical sketch 
of the actual editor of Figaro, the same who edited 
the Lampion in 1848 ; and this sketch, though other- 
wise favourable to the subject of it, contains this 
passage : — 

"A raffish little journal was this Lampion, edited in 
a devilish spirit, always on the breach, snappish, worry- 
ing, raging-mad in the full sense of the word. Here 
was invented the famous tale of the puree d'ananas, or 
pine-apple sauce, relished by the members of the Pro- 
visional Government; there M. Marrast was made to 
steal the cradle of the Comte de Paris for the use of 
M. Marrast's son; there it was discovered that the 
Duchess of Orleans' finest cashmere served as a table- 
cloth for M. Louis Blanc, if I remember rightly ; there, 


at all times and hours, was kept open a house of reception 
for every mischievous suggestion, and every unbridled 
invective ; women even, who certainly had nothing 
to do with party rage, were not spared by this grossly 

licentious policy There are in the editor of the 

Lampion's repertory two mots, of which I would not 
certainly be the author for all the wit of Voltaire. 
It was in June, 1848. A band of disarmed men was 
passing along, escorted by a regiment of the line, and 
followed by a carriage filled with the bayonets of the 
insurgents. " There go Pere Duchesne's forks," * was 
his bitter remark, as he saw these unfortunate people 
pass. The same night, under the head of Varieties, 
the Lampion contained these lines : " The following 
democratic order was found on the dead body of a 
Socialist : — ' Good for three ladles of the Faubourg St. 
Germain.' While this ribaldry was being published, 
blood was pouring forth in torrents in the four quarters 
of Paris ! " 

The journalist alluded to replied in the Figaro, of 
which he is at present the editor, to this explicit and 
bitter criticism ; and his reply, which I quote com- 
formably to the text, is confined to this : — 

" Heaven preserve me from wishing to galvanise into 
life the extinct passions of a period, so near and yet so 
far from us, in which, victors or vanquished, we have 
all sinned in the way of exaggeration. But I must say 
that, in the strife of civil war, the most culpable are 

* Pere Duchesne, it will be remembered, was the title of the paper con- 
ducted by the too notorious Hebert. The intention was to represent the 
insurgents as a species of political cannibals using bayonets for forks. 


surely not those who reply to acts of social savagery 
only with the artillery of witticisms." * 

It would require too much space to mention all the 
murderous slanders which, owing to the unshakeable 
respect of the Provisional Government for the liberty 
of the press, found their way in the columns of the 
Conslitutionnel, or other papers of this stamp, thence 
rolling and increasing, like snow-balls, through the 
whole of Europe, f 

I will not dwell any longer on this mournful 

But, as I have unsparingly blamed the Provisional 
Government for what I think was wrong, I shall 
perhaps be pardoned for stating what I am sure was 

Whatever opinion may be entertained of the views 
of which this Government was the representative, 
and deplorable as may have been thje errors into 
which an extravagant distrust of the new ideas caused 
some of its members to fall, its passage across the 
stormy stage of the world will remain an imperishable 
souvenir of honesty of purpose, integrity, love of public 
good, and self-devotedness. I will not deny that the 

* Figaro, of the 7th of September, 1856. 

t The blood rushes to one's cheek, when one thinks that the historical 
authorities — which certain people have relied on, in their attacks upon the 
members of the Provisional Government, do rely upon to this hour, and 
will obstinately persist in doing so to-morrow — are creatures such as a 
Chenu, a Delahodde, a Mirecourt, whose real name is Jacquot, the two 
first police spies of the vilest stamp, and the third, viler still, if it be 
possible ; a liar by profession, a jobber in calumny, branded and punished 
by various sentences of the police correctionelle. 

A A 


difference of opinions amongst those who composed 
it, brought on collisions and misunderstandings which 
revealed infirmities that are incident to human nature; 
hut still it is my firm conviction, that the Pro- 
visional Government, taking its acts as a whole, 
may challenge comparison with the best that has ever 
existed. When the clamours of party are silenced, 
history will say, that never, in the brief space of two 
months, did any government issue a greater number of 
decrees favourable to freedom, and stamped with more 
reverence for human dignity ; that never did any 
government in the midst of an immense conflict of 
highly excited opinions and unchained passions, display 
a more even serenity, a prouder courage, a more 
unflinching confidence in the moral authority of its 
principles • that never did a government treat its 
enemies with more magnanimity, show greater horror 
at the spilling of blood, or more scrupulously abstain 
from violence of any kind ; in a word, that never 
did a government so marvellously succeed in main- 1 
taining its position as long as it thought proper, ( 
at the summit of a society disturbed to its very 
depths, without having recourse to force, without em-i 
ploying courts, soldiers, or police, and without calling 1 
to its aid any other power than that of persuasion ! 




On the 20th of April, under the name of La Fete 
de la Fraternite, there took place a ceremony, half 
military and half civic, which strikingly exhibited the 
moral force possessed by the Republic in Paris. 

The object of this festival being the distribution of 
new flags to the National Guard and the army, 
some detachments of cavalry and regiments of the 
line were brought back to Paris. 

At seven in the morning, more than two hundred 
thousand citizens, of the working or middle class, were 
on foot in uniforms of the National Guard ; and the 
troops of the line, together with the " Garde Mobile," 
amounted to not less than 100,000 men. The streets 
were choked with crowds of people. At one of the 
extremities of the Champs Elysees there had been 
erected in the form of an amphitheatre, faced with 
seats, an immense scaffolding resting at one end on 
the " Arc de Triomphe de TEtoile." The Provisional 
Government reached it at about nine o'clock, amid a 
salute of 21 guns, from a battery at the Hippodrome. 
The members of the government took their place on 
the first rank, M. Dupont (de l'Eure) seated in the 

A A 2 


centre. Behind them stood a brilliant staff, magis- 
trates in full dress, and high officers of state. On 
each side of the scaffolding were two great orchestras, 
making the air resound with patriotic tunes. Above 
it, under the arch itself, in a second amphitheatre 
especially appropriated to them, was a group of ladies 
elegantly dressed, each holding in her hand a bouquet 
tied with tricoloured ribbons, who crowned the whole 
scene as with a garland of flowers. 

The colonels of the different corps were ranged in a 
semicircle at the foot of the scaffolding. At ten o'clock, 
M. Arago, the standard of the Republic in his hand, 
rose, and addressing himself to them, said, with a voice 
expressive at once of emotion and pride : — " Colonels, 
in the name of the Republic, we take God and men 
to witness that you swear fidelity to its flag." The 
colonels replied, raising their swords, " We swear. 
Long live the Republic ! " Then the cannon thundered, 
blending its roar with revolutionary hymns, and the 
troops began to defile. 

The air was mild, the sky cloudy ; but from time 
to time, a ray of sunshine, escaping through the 
clouds, threw a glittering light on the moving forest of 
bayonets which bristled through the whole length of 
the great avenue of the Champs Elysees. This pro 
digious mass of armed men marching in good order 
though with enthusiasm, the garlands with which the 
mouths of the cannons were wreathed, the lilacs and 
hawthorn which waved from the ends of the muskets, 
the patriotic or joyous songs which almost drowned 
the beating of the drums, the absence of all con-! 



straint, the elect of the people presenting themselves to 
them with confidence, and the image of war summoned 
to do homage to that of fraternity, formed a spectacle 
of grandeur of which no description could convey an 
adequate idea. 

As each legion, detachment, or corps, reached the 
'■? Arc de TEtoile," the colonel or officer in command 
went up on the platform, where the Members of the 
Provisional Government, by turns, presented him with 
a flag, saying, " In the name of God and of the people,, 
swear ever to defend this flag which the Republic con- 
fides to you." The officer replied, " I swear. Long live 
the Republic ! " He then took the flag, returned to 
his post, gave the order to march; and then the 
soldiers, detaching the flowers from their muskets, 
threw them in passing at the feet of the Represen- 
tatives of the nation, as an act of homage to its 

Ah ! it is all very well for Lord Normanby to devote 
a few hesitating and chilly sentences to this superb 
burst of feeling on the part of a great people; it is 
very well for him to pretend that the reception the 
Provisional Government met with, on reaching the 
platform, " struck him as very cold ; " it is all very 
well for him to write, "I should not say from any- 
thing I myself saw, that there was much enthusiasm ; " 
while at the same time he acknowledges, " but I hear 
that others in different points of the line of march, 
returned with a more favourable impression." * I 
affirm, on my side, that never was there, in any 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 335. 


country, at any epoch, a burst of feeling exceeding 
that which, on this memorable day, sent up the shout 
of " Long live the Republic ! " in one spontaneous 
chorus of 300,000 voices : and, on this subject, the 
witness I call in refutation of Lord Normanby, is the 
whole of Paris. What soul was there, in those 
moments, unhappily too fleeting, that did not melt? 
What face, that was not pale with emotions of an heroic 
kind ? Party hatred was for an instant forgotten ; 
dislikes and resentments for awhile put aside; petty 
ambitions and rivalries silenced by mutual shame. It 
was — I here appeal to the recollection of a whole 
population — it was, for all, a day of good feeling, of 
sympathetic meeting, of concord, and of hope. 

As was the case with each of my colleagues, I received 
the oaths of a certain number of the colonels, when 
giving them the flag ; and I declare that i was deeply 
moved by the enthusiasm with which I heard them 
publicly utter the sacramental words — " I swear ! " 

Amongst so many officers, who, in the course of 
twelve hours, passed before the Provisional Govern- 
ment, one only maintained silence. It was now night ; 
but thousands of torches lit up the scaffolding and 
the surrounding objects. Of the eleven members of 
the Provisional Government, who had withdrawn from 
sheer fatigue, there remained no one but M. Arago 
and myself. I drew his attention to the officer to 
whom I have alluded, and inquired his name. The 
next day, General Bedeau called upon me, and assured 
me that the officer who had seemed to evince a want 
of sympathy, was a faithful soldier ; that he knew him ; 


that lie would answer for him, and that the Republic 
would have no truer adherent. 

The English who may read these lines, will enquire, 
perhaps with astonishment, how it happened that 
Louis Bonaparte, on the 2nd of December, 1851, was 
able to find tools, and is now able to find supporters 
in this same army, which, on the 20th of April, 1.848, 
fraternised so warmly with the Parisians, and swore 
fidelity to the Republic, with so manifest an enthu- 
siasm. The explanation of this fact, so extraordinary 
to a foreigner, so painful to a Frenchman, is traceable 
to that which constitutes the essence of every standing 
army, wherever regular troops are employed in putting 
down civil disturbances. In France, the army is a 
vast assemblage of wheels within wheels, all set going 
by a moving force of some kind. Admirable in war, 
and animated on the field of battle by the noblest 
sentiments that thrill the human heart, the soldier 
in time of peace has, and can have, but one only 
motive, promotion; but one religion, the hierarchy 
of grades; but one science, discipline; but one law, 
obedience. The private soldier being entirely a 
passive instrument in the hands of the corporal, the 
corporal in the hands of the serjeant, the serjeant 
in the hands of the officer, and so on, the only thing 
which puts the army in motion, either in one direction 
or the other, is the will of him, whoever he may be, 
who is at its head. If, on the eve of the coup d'etat of 
December, the Assembly had not committed the in- 
conceivable blunder of putting the army under the 
command of the President, and had, instead, confided 


it to General Changarnier, I have a strong moral 
conviction that, in case of a struggle, General Chan- 
garnier would have made the soldiers arrest Louis 
Bonaparte, just as easily as Louis Bonaparte made them 
arrest General Changarnier. Whence it follows that, 
with a standing army in the hands of the executive 
power, liberty in a country becomes impossible. 

This is why I opposed the return of the troops to 
Paris, foreseeing that, sooner or later, their presence 
would be fatal. But what was a source of alarm to me, 
was a source of hope to others. Such, as in their secret 
thoughts, desired to "bring the people to their senses," 
made a point of receiving the troops with the most 
extravagant demonstrations of joy, and omitted no- 
thing that could serve as a pretext for detaining them. 
Here again, the majority of the Government failed in 
an accurate view of things. Deceived by the warm 
reception given to the troops, which, on the part of 
the enemies of the Republic, was done for a purpose, 
they played into their hands, without knowing it, by 
countenancing acts which they ought to have repressed, 
or, at all events, disavowed ; it was thus, that on the 
27 th of April, disturbances having broken out at 
Rouen, with respect to the elections, and the officer 
in command of the troops having ordered his men 
to charge a number of working people tumultuously 
assembled — an unarmed crowd partly made up of 
women, old men, and children, which the National 
Guard were quite sufficient to disperse, — I could not 
prevail upon the Council to order a strict inquiry into 
this lamentable affair. But it was not long, however, 


before heart-rending tales reached us. We learnt that 
cannon had been fired in the streets, that the blood of 
working-men had been spilt out in torrents, without 
loss of life to a single soldier, so unequal had been the 
struggle ! To make the thing worse, the general in 
command forwarded a report to us in the style of a 
bulletin announcing victory, and disfigured by a sort 
of savage satisfaction. I indignantly required that this 
officer should be immediately ordered up to Paris, to 
render an account of his conduct ; and, if I remember 
rightly, M. Ledru Rollin supported me. But I met 
with so violent an opposition from M. Arago, that, for 
the first and only time in my life, I regretted the 
restraint imposed upon me by the respect I felt for 

The period we had fixed for the termination of our 
own power was approaching, and the decree calling 
upon the nation to exercise its right of sovereignty 
by the choice of an Assembly, was just issued. Never, 
in any country, was there a more sincerely democratic 
law than that resulting from the deliberations of the 
Provisional Government. It provided that all French- 
men of the age of twenty-one, after six months' resi- 
dence in the place of election, should be entitled to the 
franchise; that all Frenchmen should be eligible as 
candidates ; that the votes should be taken by ballot ; 
and that, in order to throw open to the poor man of 
ability, the avenue to political life, each representative 
should receive a salary of twenty-five francs a day.* 
This was universal suffrage in its largest acceptation. 

* For the details of the law, see the Moniteur. 


That it would all at once be attended by satisfactory 
results, I must say I did not expect. I was but too 
well aware of the state of ignorance and dependence in 
which the rural population was vegetating. But I was 
aware, too, that it is not from the point of view of a 
momentary interest that we must estimate the import- 
ance of the principles which rule society, and that it is 
the essential property of universal suffrage to become 
more and more valuable in proportion as the people 
get enlightened, as their intelligence soars, and their 
political life is developed. Besides, universal suffrage 
is based upon the notion of right, and in the bare fact 
of a solemn recognition of a right, there is something 
of an immense import. Only, as I before explained, I 
wished there had been less precipitancy in calling upon 
the peasants to exercise this right, which I felt they 
were not yet capable of using to advantage. 

My opinion on this point not having prevailed, I 
signed the decree establishing universal suffrage, as a 
premature homage tendered to a principle, of which no 
one more than I acknowledged the truth and desired 
the triumph. 

The elections had been fixed for Easter Sunday, 
which fell on the 23rd of April. They did accordingly 
take place throughout France, and with a quietness 
perfectly remarkable. Not only did they give rise 
no where, except at Rouen, to any disturbance, but 
they even assumed in some places the character of a 
village fete. There were to be seen peasant-electors, 
forming themselves into a file before the church-door, 
when mass was over ; and from thence, headed by the J 


curate and the mayor, walking in procession, with 
banners flying and music playing, to the chief town of 
the district, where the voting was to take place. 

There were at Paris some underhand manoeuvres 
that truth will compel me presently to mention, 
directed against M. Albert and myself; but, excepting 
these, with which only two members of the Provisional 
Government had anything to do, nothing that I am 
aware of occurred, which could be imputed to improper 

It is true that in his circular of the 12th of March, 
M. Ledru Rollin publicly recommended his commis- 
sioners to impress upon the electors the necessity of 
electing Republicans. It is true that his circular con- 
tained this phrase : " The country is not yet educated, 
it is for you to instruct it. - "* It is true that he sent 
into the rural districts openly, and with the knowledge 
of everyone, a certain number of intelligent men com- 
missioned to diffuse the principles of the Revolution. 
But, in this M. Ledru Rollin only did his duty, 
and deserves to be highly praised for it. Universal 
suffrage, operating in the dark, beyond the reach of 
that influence which knowledge must exercise upon 
ignorance is nothing better than a miserable farce, a 
means of making the sovereignty of the people serve for 
their own oppression. 

M. Ledru Rollin would have drawn upon himself 
the just censure of history, if he had had recourse to 
the means which we have since seen employed by 

* Moniteur. 


Louis Bonaparte; if he had stifled discussion on the 
respective merits of candidates, prevented all concert 
between the electors, interdicted every meeting for 
election purposes, imposed upon the press the silence 
of death, and surrounded the ballot-boxes with the 
engines of constraint — soldiers and gendarmes. 

Thank Heaven, nothing of this kind took place 
under the Provisional Government. They had no fear 
of broad daylight. Their adversaries, far from being 
compelled to silence, had every possible liberty of 
attacking, insulting, even calumniating them. Not 
satisfied with exasperating against them the discontent 
caused in the villages by the tax of forty-five centimes, 
the agents of the vanquished and humbled party 
abused the gullibility of the peasants to such a point, 
as to induce them to swallow the most ridiculous fables. 
It is quite certain, incredible as it may appear, and the 
fact has not been denied, that in certain sequestered 
districts, M. Ledru Rollin, under the title of " Duke 
Rollin," was believed to be a man of most profligate 
habits, having two mistresses, "La Marie and La 
Martine ;" * whereat the good honest people who had 
been made to gobble down this ludicrous story, very 
naturally said, "Oh! one mistress is more than enough; 
but a couple — it is too bad ! M 

It will, of course, be understood, that these intrigues 
could not be played off in towns and large cities. 

* Mistaking M. Marie and M. de Lamartine for two women, from the 
first having a woman's Christian name, and the latter suggesting the 
female name Martine with the article la before it. M. Michelet cites 
this fact, a notorious one in France, as a curious illustration of the manner 
in which the greater part of the legends of the middle ages originated. 


There the republican feeling had, since February, 
become so predominant, that any candidate not deci- 
dedly republican in his views, would have been igno- 
miniously defeated. Hence, in such places, the 
uniform tone of all the election addresses. I restrict 
myself to the selection of three as specimens; and 
these are objects of special curiosity, inasmuch as they 
emanate from three men who now figure among the 
first dignitaries of the Empire. 

M. Baroche, at this period, wrote to the electors of 
the department of Charente Inferieure : " I am a Re- 
publican by reason, by feeling, by conviction. It is not 
as a pis-aller, or as a provisional arrangement that I 
accept the Republic • but as the only form of government 
which can assure the greatness and prosperity of France" 

According to M. Rouher, the Revolution was both 
political and social. Consequently he demanded ei most 
unrestricted liberty of public meeting, the right to esta- 
blish clubs, graduated taxation* organised labour : in 
a word, all for the people and by the people." 

M. Fialin de Persigny, recently Louis Bonaparte's 
ambassador in England, thus addressed the electors of 
the Loire : " This is not a political Revolution in the act 
of ending, it is a social Revolution in the act of begin- 
ning." And thereupon he swore, that " whatever of 
courage, intelligence, and resolution, God might be pleased 

* By this is meant what in France is called impot progressif, as thus : 
a man with an income of a hundred pounds having to pay a tax of three 
pounds ; another, with an income of two hundred, would have to pay, not 
six pounds, but more, and so on in constant progression. Whence it may 
be inferred how ultra- democratic were M. Rouher's views, during the term 
of his republicanism. 


to grant him, ivould be henceforth consecrated to the 
abolition of the only slavery that still weighed upon the 
people — the slavery of poverty/"* 

Any comments upon this would be superfluous. 

Here is what happened at Paris. 

M. Marrast, in his capacity of Mayor of Paris, was 
placed at the very centre of the electoral proceedings. 
Completely opposed to Socialism, and trembling least 
the progress it had made should be strikingly exhibited 
by the result of the Paris elections, he determined to 
spare no efforts to undermine those of the Luxem- 
bourg, which his peculiar official position was but only 
too well calculated to enable him to do, with a certain 
measure of success. He was urged on, moreover, by 
one of his supporters at the Hotel de Ville, M. Buchez, 
known in France as having mixed up in his writings 
the worship of Jacobinism with the worship of the 
Pope — a real priest in a lay dress. It was with him 
and M. Marie that M. Marrast concerted the plan of a 
review of the working-men of the Ateliers Nationaux, 
at St. Maur, on the very eve of the day fixed for the 
elections in Paris. With what object this was done, I 
will leave M, Emile Thomas, whom these gentlemen 
chose for their instrument, to explain. 

After stating that this plan, suggested by him to MM. 
Marrast and Marie, was received by them with the 
liveliest satisfaction, such demonstration being calcu- 

* Those who may be curious to see the kind of language at that time 
held by numbers of persons who have since become the heads of the re- 
action, or the supporters of tyranny, have only to consult Madame la 
Comtesse d'Azault's book, Sur la Revolution de 1848, ii. 355, et scq. 


lated to tell preponderatingly in their favour, M. Emile 
Thomas continues: 

" Consequently, as early as the morning of the 23rd, 
I had made all my preparations for this review which 
was to come off in the Manoeuvring Ground of Saint 
Maur, on the 22nd, and to conclude in the evening with 
a reception of the delegates in the Salle du Palais de la 
Bourse by the two members of the Provisional Govern- 
ment. On this occasion, in order to indemnify them 
for the expense of coming from a distance, the working 
men, besides their day's wages, were to receive the 
additional sum of fifty centimes/' * 

However, it seems the effect upon the public mind 
appeared doubtful ; for, in the course of the day, M. 
fimile Thomas received from M. Buchez a letter as 

follows : — 

"Mairie de Paris, 21st April, 1848. 

"My dear Emile, 

" La nuit porte con$eil. I have been thinking 
that a review of the Ateliers Nationaux would look too 
much like an electoral manoeuvre, I have communi- 
cated this fear to Marrast and to Reaut. They have 

thought so, too 

" Signed, Buchez." f 

Thereupon, according to his own account, M. Emile 
Thomas hastened to the Hotel de Ville. He repre- 
sented to M. Buchez the inconvenience of a countermand, 
and remarked to him that " the impression produced was 

* Bistoire des Ateliers Nationaux, par M. Emile Thomas, p. 213. 
t Ibid., p. 214. 


of little consequence since the object to be attained 
would be entirely in favour of moderation and pru- 
dence."* In other words, according to M. Emile 
Thomas, the end justified the means. 

And such, too, was the opinion, we must believe, of 
MM. Buchez and Marrast, since M. Emile Thomas, 
adds : — " M. Buchez relished my motives, and led 
me straight to M. Marrast, who came round entirely to 
my views." Consequently, M. Buchez wrote once 
more to countermand the countermand. f After all, 
however, the review did not take place. The reasons 
whereof, I suppose, M. Emile Thomas was not in a 
position to explain, but which I can now unfold. 

Being informed of the intentions of the Mairie, I 
brought the matter before the Council, and at my 
instance it was decided that, if the review of St. Maur 
took place, it should be, not in the presence of two 
members of the Government only, but in the presence 
of the whole Government. As for the extra pay to the 
working men, I was not at that moment informed of 
that characteristic detail, and it was not mentioned. 

However, as the time approached, the project was 
abandoned by its authors. For, if all the members of the 
government made their appearance, what was to become 
of the object indicated by M. Emile Thomas ? How 
was a fete, conducted on these terms, to be made to 
" give MM. Marrast and Buchez a great preponder- 
ance ? " How could it be certain that the scheme would 
turn out to the advantage of " moderation and pru- 

* Histoirc des Ateliers Nationmix, par M. Emile Thomas, p. 215. 
t Ibid. 


dcnce," as these virtues were understood at the Hotel 
de Ville ? 

But I have not yet done with this valuable stock of 
confessions. For instance, M. fimile Thomas himself 
has been good enough to inform us, that the Mairie 
de Paris had a million copies struck off, on rose-coloured 
paper, of an electoral list, on which the names of MM. 
Albert, Flocon, Ledru Rollin, and Louis Blanc, did not 
appear ; that it was sent to the district-mayors who could 
be relied on ; and that it was disseminated by M. 
Barthelemy St. Hilaire.* " We have thought of some 
omissions to be made," wrote M. Buchez, on the 21st of 
April, to M. fimile Thomas ; " be good enough to see 
the Minister." And lest the reader should find this 
phrase somewhat obscure, M. Emile Thomas subjoins 
these explanations, in his account of their proceedings. 

"This note is relative to the composition of the 
electoral lists. The names of MM. Louis Blanc and 
Albert had been struck out at first; it was now proposed 
to do the same with those of MM. Ledru Rollin 
and Flocon, and their names were also struck out 
accordingly." f 

A fact which might well be doubted, but which is 
unfortunately too clearly proved, is that M. Emile 
Thomas did not scruple to employ the funds of the 
State in furtherance of these disloyal practices. We 
take the report of M. Ducos on the accounts of the Pro- 
visional Government, and we there read : — " It results 
from the declarations of M. Gariepuy that, some time 

* Histoire des Ateliers Nationaux, par M. Emile Thomas, p. 216. 
t lbid. t p. 214. 

B B 


before the elections in the month of April, 1848, 
M. Emile Thomas gave him orders to place thirty-six 
men of his brigade at the disposal of M. Moutin, who 
was then President of the Union des Travailleurs, for 
the purpose of assisting him to distribute electoral 
lists. Some time later, new orders were given that the 
eight hundred artists (in the Ateliers Nationaux) should 
be employed at the same work, even if they were to be 
j)aid three francs a day each." * 

To make this intelligible, it must be explained that, 
amongst the men employed, or property speaking, 
not employed, although paid, in the National Works, 
there were a certain number of persons who, having no 
positive occupation, rejoiced in the name of artists. 

To extenuate the effect of these confessions, M. Emile 
Thomas, in his book, seeks to present the electoral 
manoeuvres of his employers as simple reprisals against 
the Luxembourg. Unfortunately, this assertion in 
defence of intrigue is disproved by documents whose 
authority is not to be impeached. The Report of 
the Commission of Inquiry, drawn up by my enemies, 
with the avowed object of ruining me, contains a 
speech of mine which I may appeal to as an authority, 
since it was not destined to see the light, and is made 
up of short-hand notes, collected and put together, 
with complacent ingenuity, by my own accusers. 

Let us sec, then, what took place at the Luxembourg, 
when the drawing up of an Electoral List was talked 
of. I quote the 'Report above mentioned. 

* Monitew of the 26th April, 1849. 


A Voice. " You should draw it up yourself." 

Louis Blanc. " I cannot do so, because I am a 
member of the Provisional Government." * 

In fact, if there be one man bold enough to pretend 
that, in any way or degree, directly or indirectly, I 
caused the exclusion from the electoral list of the Luxem- 
bourg of a single /me of my colleagues, let that man 
stand up and assert it ! Yet I did interfere, and I will 
explain how, still proving my assertions as I advance. 

Invited for the first time to the exercise of its sovereign 
power, the people appeared earnestly anxious to have 
the interests of labour represented by working men. 
Paris had thirty-four representatives to nominate, and 
it had come to my ears, that, out of this number, the 
people were prepared to nominate twenty-four or twenty- 
five working men. This proportion appeared to me 
excessive, and I explained myself clearly on the point, 
before the delegates of the Luxembourg. 

"You will permit me," I said to them, "to speak 
to you with frankness. It would be very important 
to your own interests, that your list should not be 
composed entirely of working men. Among those who 
are not working men, there are men, some of whom 
you know, who, as far as sympathy and feeling go, may 
be said to be of you ; who love you as if they had shared 
your sufferings ; who, although they have not been 
reduced to the hard necessity of devoting themselves for 
twelve, thirteen, or fourteen hours a day, to manual 
labour of a nature to deprive their intelligence of a part 

* Rapport de la Commission de V Enquite, vol. i. p. 121. 

B B 2 


of its development^ have not the less employed their 
lives in the study of your miseries and your interests ; 
who know them, and are ready to defend them ; who 
desire to do so, and who will. I should propose to 
you, therefore, to choose, out of the thirty-four names, 
twenty belonging to the working classes, and fourteen 
belonging to the category of those who, though not 
working men, have given pledges to the people." * 

The reader will remark that the number proposed 
by me left room, on the list of the companies, both 
for my twelve colleagues, and for the ministers who 
were not members of the Provisional Government, 
so that I was striving, at this time, to hold the door 
of the electoral list open even for those who were 
only thinking of shutting it against myself. 

It is true, that on the list of the delegates the 
names of four members of the Provisional Government 
only were admitted ; namely, Ledru Rollin, Flocon, 
Albert, and myself. But was this a matter for sur- 
prise ? Was not the separation of the Council into 
two groups unequally revolutionary in policy, an open 
and admitted fact ? Was it not natural that the stream 
of popular preference should flow in the sense of the 
minority, who were known to represent, in a more 
special manner, the feelings and the interests of the 
people ? In what degree could I answer for the result 
of suffrages which were always held sacredly free in my 
eyes? Had the key of the ballot urn been placed 
in my hands, I would have thrown it away with 

* Rapport de la Commission de VEnquSte, vol. i. p. 121. 


indignation and disgust. It is the simple truth, 
which no one has had the audacity to deny, that the 
delegates of the Luxembourg fixed their choice inde- 
pendently of any personal influence, and after the 
most serious, searching, and impartial examination of 
the opinions and titles of each working man's candidate. 

The selection was made in the following manner : 
It was agreed that each trade union should present a 
candidate ; that the candidates should have to present 
themselves before a commission appointed to examine 
them ; that their replies to the questions put to them 
should be taken down in short-hand and consigned 
to a report ; that the report should be read before a 
general meeting, the candidates being present ; and 
that on these data, the assembly should select a final 
list of twenty names to be submitted to popular suffrage. 
Thus, no concession was made to favour, nor to mere 
enthusiasm, nor to cliques, nor to any official influence 

Three weeks only elapsed between the day of the 
elections, and the day on which the bases I have 
described were laid down for the choice of candidates. 

It was on the 5th of March, 1848, that the com- 
mission for examining the candidates was formed. 
It was composed of the following citizens : — Viez, 
delegate of the printers; Six, delegate of the carpet- 
makers ; Bonnefond, delegate of the cooks ; Passard, 
delegate of the brushmakers ; Pemot, delegate of the 
cabinet-makers and joiners ; Duchene, delegate of the 

Where was this commission to sit ? No doubt, there 


was no lack of room to receive them in the Luxem- 
bourg, which had become the Palace of the People. 
But the delegates would not furnish the counter- 
revolution with a pretext for suspecting the indepen- 
dence of their choice and calumniating my influence; 
and as their pride would have suffered too much from 
the refusal or the grant of a place of meeting at the 
Hotel de Ville, they were obliged to look out for two 
miserable rooms of ten feet square each ; and in these 
were to meet the representatives of that potent army of 
working men, whose generosity was even then guarding 
so many deserted palaces ! With much grace and 
courtesy, M. Dumas offered the private lodging which 
he occupied at the Sorbonne, in his capacity of 
Professor of Chemistry; it was there that the com- 
mission proceeded to business. 

A President and a Secretary were nominated; the 
reports from the different bodies of working men, 
authenticating the candidates they had proposed, were 
received, and every candidate was informed by letter 
of the day and hour when he would be questioned. 
The principal questions were the following: — 

" What do you think of our present Institutions ? 

" What are your ideas on the subject of lieligion ? 
Are you for the liberty of worship ? Ought forms of 
worship to be paid by the State ? 

"What are your views on the organisation of 

" What reforms do you think should be introduced 
into the Magistracy ? 

" How do you understand the organisation of the 


Army ? What ought to be its office now, and in the 
future ? 

" On what bases, in your opinion, ought the system 
of taxation to rest ? 

" What is your opinion on the subject of divorce ? 

"What do you think should be the relations esta- 
blished between France and the different peoples of 
Europe, especially Germany and Italy?" 

The commission sat for eight days. It examined 
seventy candidates, presented by as many trade compa- 
nies; and I learned from the short-hand writers who 
assisted at these grave sittings, that several of the 
working men displayed in their replies to the interroga- 
tories superior intelligence. 

An interesting circumstance marked the close of the 
labours of the Commission. At its last meeting, one 
of the officials announced that a man beloved by the 
people requested an audience. He entered. Although 
negligent in his attire, his appearance had in it some- 
thing at once attractive and venerable. His look 
gentle, penetrating, and thoughtful ; his manners 
simple and noble ; his physiognomy sagacious and 
contemplative ; a rich profusion of hair, a fine open 
face, a head which study had somewhat bent, every- 
thing in him inspired respect, but a respect blended 
with confiding sympathy. " Citizens," he said, " I un- 
derstand that the working men have done me the honour 
to place me on their ticket, as a candidate for the 
Constituted Assembly. I have thought it my duty 
to present myself before your Committee, to submit 
myself to your examination." The workmen looked 



M uf 

[19 . 


at one another, both touched and surprised. The man 
thus addressing them was one of those whose life had 
been devoted to the promulgation and development 
of high views. He was well known in France as one 
of the most vigorous thinkers, and one of the most 
benevolent teachers of the people. It was M. Pierre 

On the conclusion of the labours of the commission, 
the reports were taken to the Luxembourg, and the 
delegates constituted themselves into a general meet- 
ing to draw up a definitive list of candidates. 

Of the three sittings employed in this duty, begin- 
ning at eight in the morning, the last was prolonged 
until two hours after midnight. Unwilling to separate 
before the completion of their work, the delegates took 
their humble dinner in their bureau. Bread, cheese, 
and water, such was the banquet of the working men, 
in that Palace of the Luxembourg, where the hired 
libellers of the counter-revolution were to lay the scene 
of their foul calumnious inventions. And as these 
working men were too proud to owe even a drop of 
water to anybody, the delegates made a collection 
among themselves to defray the cost of their modest 
meal. This collection amounted to forty-two francs ; 
they gave twenty to the waiters in attendance. 

Must I here recall the disgraceful acts of the 
electoral war which was waged against the delegates of 
the Luxembourg ? 

On the day of the election, Pernot, delegate of the 
cabinet-makers, on his return from the Champ de Mars, 
accompanied by the flag-bearer of his company, 


perceived several individuals distributing a list which 
they said was the list of the Luxembourg candidates — 
it was the list of the Hotel de Ville ! Pernot burst 
out into contemptuous reproaches at this treachery, 
which made the people indignant ; and it is too certain 
that, at many points, scenes of this kind were provoked 
by similar frauds. 

Such is the faithful account of the first election 
which the people of Paris were called upon to make 
under the authority of this great principle — universal 
suffrage. For my own part, not only did I put 
forward no name, but I did not assist at a single 
electoral discussion, and I carried my scruples so far as 
even carefully to conceal my sympathies. This is so 
true, that the list of the Luxembourg did not 
contain the names which I should most ardently have 
desired to find there ; such as that of M. Pecqueur, for 
instance, who had supported me, at the Luxembourg, 
with so much talent and zeal. ^ 

Scruples of delicacy are a great impediment, espe- 
cially in politics. The delegates left entirely to them- 
selves, committed a fault, a very honourable fault 
doubtless, but one which showed their want of ex- 
perience in electioneering tactics. Instead of so 
composing their list of candidates, as to make it 
acceptable to the fraction of the Republican party 
which did not go as far as Socialism, they put upon it 
only the names of socialists of the most decided views, 
and those of workmen known only to their comrades. 

This stiff objection to any kind of compromise had 
the result naturally to be expected from it ; a great 


number of republicans who would have willingly voted 
for the working men's list, had it been less exclusive, 
not only would not support it, but, for the purpose of 
successfully opposing it, coalesced with Legitimists and 
Orleanists. Another circumstance, marvellously well 
adapted to serve the purposes of the Mayor of Paris 
and his subordinates, was the jealousy skilfully excited 
between the Ateliers Nationaux and the Luxembourg. 
The first, consisting of workmen who depended for their 
bread, and that of their families, on the Minister of 
Public Works, furnished the election ticket of the Hotel 
de Ville with a contingent of votes, afterwards bitterly 
repented by those who gave them, but which were then 
forced from them, partly by the feeling of their de- 
pendence, partly by a spirit of rivalry towards the 
delegates of the Luxembourg. 

The consequence was that the electoral ticket of the 
Hotel de Ville, which contained the names of MM. de 
Lamartine, Arago, Dupont (de FEure), Marrast, Marie, 
Gamier Pages, Cremieux, and from which my name 
had been erased, as well as those of MM. Flocon, 
Albert, and Ledru Rollin, was accepted, on the one 
hand by that fraction of the working class to which 
the Minister of Public Works had, as we have seen, 
given a military organisation; and, on the other, 
by the coalition of all the old parties with the re- 
publicans of the National's tint ; the ticket of the 
Luxembourg represented only a party, very united 
and compact certainly, but for this very reason, less 

I am compelled to acid that my opponents, doing 



me the painful honour of considering me as a man 
particularly dangerous, moved mountains to cause my 
defeat. My " History of Ten Years/' my organisation 
of labour, my constant endeavours to emancipate the 
working class, had caused me a multitude of implacable 
enemies. If I could have doubted it before, I must 
have found it out now. In spite of all this, I was 
elected by 121,140 votes; M. Albert, against whom the 
enemies of the Luxembourg were less violent, got 
133,041 votes, that is, within 1500 of the number 
M. Ledru Rollin received. The other members of the 
Government, with the exception of M. Flocon, had 
many more votes, and figured at the head of the list of 
thirty-four successful candidates. 

This list, at the bottom of which was the name of 
M. de Lamennais with 104,871 votes, had, at its top, 
that of M. de Lamartine with 259,800 votes — an 
enormous and deceptive number, which misled M. de 
Lamartine as to the amount of his popularity. It 
escaped him that the 259,800 electors brought toge- 
ther by a momentary coalition of old parties, and 
exhibiting sincere convictions side by side with am- 
bition of every sort, many arriere-pensees and hatreds, 
composed a force much less genuine than the 133,000 
votes given to Albert ; because in this number there 
were no less than 100,000 from men sharing the same 
views, adopting the same programme, and having the 
same faith — a faith sufficiently profound and inflexible 
to make them prefer the risk of a defeat to the profit 
of a compromise. 

But the illusion of M. de Lamartine happened to 


be as brief as it was blinding. The Legitimists and 
the Orleanists soon showed that, in voting for him, 
their sole object had been to nse him as an instrument, 
to be broken to bits when no longer needed. 

No one certainly admires more than I do the genius 
of M. de Lamartine, his integrity, the magnanimity 
of his bursts of feeling, the splendour of his imagina- 
tion, made so fascinating by the unparalleled richness 
of his language. But according to my views, he fell 
into a fatal mistake, in tracing out the part he had 
to play, under the influence of this ruling passion of a 
literary man — to be applauded. With his ear inces- 
santly on the stretch to catch the sound of his name, 
and always uneasy lest the music, as it were, of his 
fame should be disturbed, he made it a study to 
wheedle any one whom he feared. He coveted every 
variety of homage. He loved to see his image re- 
flected from the surface of every phase of opinion, and, 
in his handling of parties, he endeavoured to place 
himself at their point of intersection. With equal 
ardour was he to be seen courting the approbation of 
drawing-rooms, and trying to allure that of the 
clubs; ingratiating himself with Lord Normanby, and 
making friends with M. Sobrier ; offering an embassy 
to M. de la Rochejaquelin, and looking out for secret 
interviews with M. Blanqui. 

That M. de Lamartine fancied he was in this way 
contributing to a work of universal reconciliation, is 
to be inferred from his natural generosity of character. 
But he would soon have seen how fruitless such an 
effort was likely to be, depending exclusively on the 



influence of personal fascination, had lie not yielded 
to an inward motive, of which in all probabilities, he 
was himself unconscious. So easily do our best feelings 
conceal imperceptible sophisms, and so skilful is the 
human heart in deceiving itself ! 

M. de Lamartine undoubtedly displayed, when in 
power, eminent qualities. But bravely to espouse the 
cause of the weak and the oppressed against the 
strong ; to confront, with all the energy of an uncon- 
querable soul, injustice — whether armed with a glaive, 
or crowned with flowers ; to expose oneself, on behalf 
of everlasting truth, to be misunderstood, slandered, 
vilified, ridiculed, stung, till the blood comes, by thou- 
sands of vipers ; to live unmoved amid the hatred of 
the dishonest ; and so to serve our conscience, as not 
to fear doing battle with the world, for conscience sake, 
this is what must be done, and what M. de Lamartine 
did not. Nobly defiant of death, his was the courage 
of the soldier ; trembling before detractors, he had the 
weakness of the poet. What was deficient in him, was 
the power of provoking deadly enmities. 

And so he had all parties at his feet — for one day. 
He lay down, believing that France was at his bed- 
side. He went to sleep, in the intoxication of ima- 
ginary triumph : he dreamt dictatorship : he awoke — 
he was alone ! 




The opening of the National Constituent Assembly, 
chosen by universal suffrage, took place on the 4th of 
May, 1848. The mere aspect of the hall intimated 
the prodigious changes that had occurred in the short 
interval of two months. People pointed out with a 
mingled feeling of curiosity and emotion, M. Barbes 
seated amongst colleagues who had been his judges; 
Father Lacordaire, in his white dress as a Dominican 
friar, elbowing M. Coquerel, a Protestant minister; 
the Voltairian author of " Dieu des bonnes gens," 
Beranger, in the midst of priests in their cassocks ; a 
Breton wearing the lilac sash of his country, in con- 
trast with groups of representatives in plain black 
coats ; and members of the French Academy seated 
as legislators between a peasant on one side and a 
working man on the other. 

Nor was the spectacle in the galleries less striking, 
where the clubs, like the "corps diplomatique," had 
their scats, and where the eye glanced from the em- 
broidered coat to the uniform of the National Guard, 
and from the most finished toilette to the blouse des 


What would be the issue of that assemblage, still 
indefinite and mysterious, of such divers elements, 
and of so many conflicting ideas, no man then could 
say. Would society be confined to the old rut, or be 
vigorously urged onwards into new paths? The 
Revolution began at the end of the last century, would 
it tranquilly pursue its irresistible course; or, once 
more checked, would it be again compelled to burst 
its dikes, at the risk of a universal inundation ? 
Such were the ominous questions each spectator asked 
himself; and certainly it would have exceeded the 
capacity of human wit at that time to have dived into 
their depths. 

The only thing which seemed certain was, that Re- 
publicanism, as a form of government, was henceforth a 
settled matter. But this did not suffice to the earnest 
friends of progress. It was less the laying their 
hands on a political instrument which they had in 
view, than the future use which might be made of it. 
Now, the very composition of the Assembly, in spite 
of its air of noveltjr, caused them a secret uneasiness. 
They were alarmed at again seeing in the new chamber 
the well-known faces they had seen in the old one. 
With the exception of M. Thiers and some others, 
they found themselves face to face with the most active 
supporters of the fallen regime : MM. Berry er, Odilon 
Barrot, Dupin, Remusat, Duvergier de Hauranne, 
Dufaure, Montalembert. The provinces, it is true, 
had contributed a large number of republicans. But 
these in general cared only for Republicanism as a 
mere political form ; and even with these it was a 


question, whether as a mere political institution, inde- 
pendent of all social consequences, the Republic was 
sure of a majority, seeing that, out of 900 members 
there were 130 belonging to the Legitimist party, and 
300 to the Orleanist party. 

Thus, from the very first clay, the enormous fault 
committed by the Provisional Government in hurrying 
on the elections, in opposition to my earnest entrea- 
ties, made itself manifest. On the 4th of May, it was 
only necessary to cast one's eyes upon the benches of 
the droite, to comprehend that the elections had trans- 
ferred political power from Paris to the Provinces, in 
other words from that part of France which was the 
most enlightened, to that part that was the least so. 
This first effort of universal suffrage turned out to be 
nothing more than the victory of the rural districts, 
the abodes of ignorance, over a city, the brilliant focus 
of light. The privileged classes were about to subdue 
the working classes by means of the peasants — the 
people by means of the people. 

The members of the Provisional Government had 
agreed to meet at the Chancellerie, Place Vendome. 
There Albert and myself found our colleagues assem- 
bled on the 4th of May, and it was from thence that 
we all went to the Assembly. The day was splendid. 
The 5th Regiment of Lancers, the 2nd of Dragoons, the 
11th Light Infantry, the GOth Regiment of the Line, 
the Republican Guard, and Guard Mobile, lined a part 
of the Boulevardes, the Place Vendome, the Rue de la 
Paix, the Rue de Rivoli, and the approaches to the 
Legislative Palace. Numerous detachments of National 


Guards, who bad come up from the country to escort 
their Representatives, fraternised with the Legions of the 
National Guard of Paris; and an immense crowd 
overflowed through all its avenues into the Place de 
la Revolution, singing the Marseillaise. The members 
of the Provisional Government went to what was 
formerly the Palais Bourbon, by the Rue de la Paix, 
the Boulevard, and the Place de la Concorde. There 
was but one opinion as to the reception they met with 
on their way. Madame la Comtesse d'Agoult thus 
speaks of it : — 

" Preceded by the Commander-in-chief of the Na- 
tional Guard with his staff, they marched bare-headed 
between two officers with drawn swords, and followed 
by all the mayors and sub -mayors of Paris and the 
suburbs. Uninterrupted acclamations arising from the 
dense crowd through which the procession passed, also 
from the windows and roofs of the houses, saluted 
these intrepid gentle-hearted men, who, without com- 
mitting a single despotic act, without spilling one 
drop of blood, without doing violence to one single 
liberty, had, under the most trying circumstances, 
inaugurated the reign of democracy in France." * 

After having given the same details, the author of 
another very interesting historical work on the Revolu- 
tion of 1848 exclaims : " Never did government receive 
so splendid an ovation." f 

The cannon of the Invalides announced to the 
Assembly the arrival of the men, who, all-powerful 

* Ilistoirc de la Revolution de 1848, by Daniel Sterne, ii. 370, .371. 
+ Histoire de la Revolution, 1848, by M. Robin, ii. 260. 

c c 


the day before, had now come voluntarily and humbly 
to deposit in the hands of the French people — repre- 
sented, if not in a satisfactory at least in a regular 
manner — the dictatorship with which they had been 
invested by the people of Paris. When the venerable 
Dupont (de TEure) with one arm in M. de Lamar- 
tine's, and the other in mine, entered the hall, the 
whole Assembly rose spontaneously, and uttered the 
most enthusiastic shouts I ever heard of "Long live 
the Republic ! " The galleries returned them, and 
when the deep impression produced by this imposing 
expression of feeling in favour of Republicanism had 
ceased, M. Dupont (de FEure) ascending the tribune, 
read with a voice betraying great emotion, a short and 
simple address, which terminated thus : " At length the I 
moment is come for the Provisional Government to ! 
deposit in your hands the unlimited power with which I 
the Revolution had invested them. You are your- 
selves aware whether this dictatorship has been in our 
hands anything else than a moral power, exerted in 
the midst of the critical events through which we have 
just passed. Faithful to our origin and to our per-, 
sonal convictions, we have not hesitated to proclaim 
the Republic that rose up in February. To-day, we 
inaugurate the labours of the National Assembly with 
this cry which must ever be its rallying cry : ' Long 
live the Republic ! ' " 

Descending from the tribune, M. Dupont (de Y Eure); 
was led to his seat, where Beranger was waiting for| 
him ; and the two noble old men embraced each otheii 
in the midst of general emotion. 



Fresh cheers then shook the hall, breaking out again 
and again during the course of the sitting. 

Towards evening, General Courtais, in full uniform 
as Commander-in-chief of the National Guard, suddenly 
entered the Hall, announcing that the Place de la 
Concorde, the bridge leading to the palace, the 
approaches to it, and the quays, were crowded to excess 
with vast numbers of people impatient to mingle their 
acclamations with those of the Representatives. At 
once, yielding to the influence of the moment, all the 
members quit their places, and range themselves under 
the vestibule of the palace, facing the Place de la 
Concorde. How could we find words capable of faith- 
fully expressing the magnificent and really devotional 
character of this great scene ? It was a soft, bright 
spring clay, and the setting sun was shedding its 
last rays upon this glorious Place de la Concorde, the 
most beautiful part of one of the most beautiful cities 
in the world. The moment the Representatives ap- 
peared under the vestibule, the cannon sounded, the 
flags or banners of the National Guard and of the 
army waved their salute; the bands of the different 
regiments began to strike up the Marseillaise; and 
then was to be heard reaching to the skies one of 
those mighty shouts, which at the Olympic games, 
as History tells us, made the ravens fall dead into the 
circus. It was one of those moments, so rare in the 
life of peoples, when hands are held out to hands, 
when hearts leap forward to hearts, and men, forgetting 
their petty dissensions, feel they are members of the 
same family, and children of the same father — God. 

o c 2 


A few days afterwards, the Assembly passed by a 
nearly unanimous vote, there being only two or three 
dissentients, the following decree : " The National Con- 
stituent Assembly receives from the hands of the Pro- 
visional Government the transfer of the powers confided 
to them. The Provisional Government by the greatness 
of their services have merited well of the country." * 

Thus it was that the Republic was established in 
France by universal, and, at that moment as I believe, 
sincere, consent. 

But the old monarchical parties, willing enough then 
to submit to the Republic as a necessity, were not 
prepared to accept it in its socialist bearing. Now, 
unfortunately, in this disinclination they happened to 
be backed by that fraction of the Republican party 
whose views were merely political, and who, on this 
occasion, acted like a coiys d'armee, which, from mis- 
conception or any other unlucky cause, should unex- 
pectedly fall upon its own vanguard. 

The result of this coalition, in which the Legitimists 
and the Orleanists cleverly kept themselves, at first, 
in the back-ground, was to set up everywhere in all 
offices, 'political, to the exclusion of social. Republicans. 

Hence the composition of the "Commission Execu-j 
tive," upon which the Assembly appointed MM. 
Arago, Gamier Pages, Marie, de Lamartine, audi 
Ledru llollin. In this manner was a part of the 
Provisional Government employed under the new order 
of things. Besides, M. Marrast was left in possession! 

* Monileur of the 8th of May, 1848. 


of his office as Mayor of Paris, and M. Cremieux of 
his, as Minister of Justice. M. Flocon, too, was 
appointed Minister of Commerce. Of course, the 
great age of Dupont (de l'Eure) explains why he did 
not take office. So there were only two members of 
the late government who were not included in the 
new arrangements, M. Albert and myself. 

The day previous to their announcement, we had 
resigned our official position at the Luxembourg, and 
I had taken advantage of the opportunity to intimate 
my fixed resolution not to take office of any kind until 
the Constituent Assembly should be succeeded by the 

Having by this proved that I had no interested 
motive to serve, and taken away from the Assembly 
any pretext that might arise out of personal objections 
to myself, I felt at liberty to insist upon the institution 
of a public department especially devoted to the labour 
question, and which, if overlooked, I warned the 
Assembly, would bring about, not the " Revolution du 
mepris" as in Louis Philippe's time, but one much more 
terrible, the "Revolution de la f aim I" * 

I did not then myself measure the full force of my 
own prophecy. Still less accurately was it measured 
by the Assembly, thanks to unfortunate prejudices 
both against the cause I advocated and myself — all 
which I recall " more in sorrow than in anger." 

The line the Assembly had drawn, was significant 
enough, nor did the people misinterpret it. Hence 

* Moniteur, Seance du 10 Mai, 1848. 


the first germs of division between thern and the 
Assembly. In proportion as the latter deserted, the 
former clung to us. Every day making us more and 
more the symbols of their wants, they lost no oppor- 
tunity of giving us proofs of their confidence and 
support. The proposal I had made on the 10th having 
been passed by, the working classes were not long in 
showing the mischievous impression produced upon 
them. The Government had appointed a day for a 
festival called the " Fete de la Concorde/' to commemo- 
rate the establishment of the Republic, to which the 
working classes were, of course, invited. Whereupon 
the acting committee of the delegates of the Luxem- 
bourg, without my knowledge, published an address 
which was placarded on all the walls of Paris. After 
quoting the decree concerning the " Droit au Travail," 
issued by that Provisional Government whose acts 
had certainly not been repudiated by the National 
Assembly, they said : — 

" The promises made on the barricades not having 
been accomplished, and the Assembly having refused 
on the 10th of May, to form a ministry of Labour and 
Progress, we working men, delegates of the Luxem- 
bourg, have unanimously decided not to take part in 
the Pete, so called, de la Concorde. 
" La garde, President ; 

" Besnard, Godin, Lavoye, Vice-Presidents ; 
" Lefaure, Delit, Petin, Secretaires." * 
It was when the popular irritation evinced by this 

* See Le RcprCsentant da Peuple, No. 42. 


document was at its height, that rumours spread 
through Paris of movements in Poland for the recovery 
of its independence. Sympathy with the sufferings or 
prosperity of other peoples being a prominent feature of 
French character, — and, as a Frenchman, I take leave to 
say, a most honourable one, — the news caused a general 
excitement, which was fanned into a flame by the 
action of certain of the clubs. 

Such were the circumstances that led to the eventful 
and melancholy day which, by the invasion of the 
National Assembly inflicted such mortal wounds on 
the Republic. 

It having been my misfortune to be involved in the 
consequences, although perfectly unconnected with the 
cause, and to so sad an extent as to be driven from my 
country for my alleged participation in acts which I 
did my best, first to prevent, and then to check ; it will 
be necessary I should give a somewhat minute account 
of them, though the limits of this work constrain me to 
confine myself to the part I was called upon to play. 

On the 14th of May vague reports reached me, like 
the rest of the world, that a great number of citizens 
proposed going the next day to the National Assembly 
to present a petition in favour of Poland. So far 
bruit ; beyond this, not a syllable did I hear. Of the 
monstrous project of invading the Assembly and dis- 
solving it, not a whisper. But whatever might have 
been the object of the demonstration, was there no 
risk, I asked myself, in the actual fermentation of the 
public mind, of furnishing opportunities for attempts 
at disorder, and ultimately putting dangerous weapons 


into the hands of the reactionist party? This is pre- 
cisely what there was too much reason to apprehend, 
especially after the 10th of April. For my part, I 
certainly feared it ; and I can affirm that M. Albert's 
views coincided with mine. I happened to meet M. 
Barbes. Communicating to him my apprehensions, he 
assured me he fully shared them, and expressed himself 
on the point with considerable warmth. In a demon- 
stration so susceptible of being perverted by some, and 
misrepresented by others, he discerned a peril and fore- 
saw a calamity : he left me, determined to persuade as 
many of his friends as he might meet with, to have 
nothing to do with it. As far, then, as to MM. Albert 
and Barbes being in any way implicated in this plot, I 
am authorised, by my relations with them, to deny it ; 
a declaration which my conscience, even more than my 
friendship, prescribes. 

On the 1 5th of May I went as usual to the National 
Assembly. Certain libellers have not been ashamed to 
circulate in print, that on the morning of this ill-omened 
day, I called at the Cafe Tortoni, and there concerted 
matters with Blanqui, Barbes, and other chiefs ; a 
detestable fabrication, which I tread upon in passing. 

For the purpose of hearing better, I took my seat 
on the benches of the right, close to the tribune, when 
suddenly the sound of shouts in the distance announced 
the approach of the crowd. There was a sudden rush 
of Representatives into the hall, and cries of " To your 
places !" I then went to my usual seat on the highest 
benches of the extreme left. The noise approached 
nearer and nearer, and the back galleries were presently 


filled with men of the people bearing banners. Shortly 
afterwards, the doors being burst open by the crowd, 
and those in the galleries at the back having come 
forward, the body of the Hall was soon completely 
filled. Clamours of all sorts contended with one 
another, until the tumult grew horrible. In the midst 
of this disorder I had nothing to do but follow the 
same course as my colleagues, and to remain like them 
in my place, a wonder-struck but powerless spectator of 
this invasion of a sanctuary which the triumph of 
universal suffrage should have for ever rendered as 
inviolable as the sovereignty of the people. But it was 
not long — there are not wanting numbers of persons 
capable of testifying to the perfect accuracy of these 
particulars — before I was approached by representa- 
tives, ushers, and attendants, coming to inform me that 
an immense crowd was pressing into the court close 
to the Rue de Bourgogne, calling for me with loud 
cries, and which, if I did not show myself to them, 
would increase to a dangerous degree the throng that 
had already invaded the Assembly. What was to be 
done ? Ought I not to keep my post in the midst of 
the Assembly of which I was a member ? And yet not 
to go, when my doing so was required as a means of 
restoring tranquillity, would not this be to incur a 
grave responsibility? For some time I resisted the 
entreaties made me; but as they became more and 
more urgent, I determined to place myself at the 
disposal of the Assembly. I therefore went to the 
President's chair, and addressing myself to Citizen 
Buchez, who had already been apprised by an usher of 


what was going on, I asked him if, in case it were 
thought useful I should address the people, I should 
be authorised to do so by the body to which I be- 
longed, and from which I did not wish in any way to 
separate myself? 

Citizen Buchez reminded me, that at a moment 
when his voice was completely overpowered by the 
tumult it would be perfectly impossible for him to 
ascertain the will of the Chamber. " In that case," 
I replied, " do you, in the name of the Assembly, and 
in your capacity of Vice-president, authorise me to 
interfere ? " He answered me in an affirmative way^ 
in presence of one of the Vice-presidents Citizen 
Courbon. His precise answer was: "As President I 
have no orders to give you ; as a man and citizen I 
urge your going." I insisted upon a less equivocal 
answer. Thereupon in presence of M. Buchez, who 
continued silent with an air of acquiescing, M. Cour- 
bon, the Vice-president, said to me, "Well, you are 
officially authorised/' It was only therefore to pre- 
serve order, and after being thus authorised, that I 
addressed the crowd. Standing on the secretaries' 
table, I solicited a moment's silence, which was granted 
to me, and of which I took advantage — the Moniteur 
will bear me witness — to win over the people to 
calmness, moderation, and respect for their own sove- 
reignty, personified in an Assembly chosen by uni- 
versal suffrage. 

Nevertheless, the tumult within the Hall continued, 
while the excitement outside increased every instant. 
Again, the most anxious appeals were made to me. 



Witli the consent of the President of the Assembly, 
I went to one of the windows of the court which 
communicates with the Place de Bourgogne, and 
mounting on the window-sill, where Albert and Barbes 
were, I said to the closely-packed multitude, what I 
thought best adapted to pacify them. I told them 
in substance, that no one could deny the reasonableness 
of their desires for a more equitable partition of the 
fruits of toil, and the gradual extinction of poverty ; 
but that the sacred interests of the working classes 
would not, they might rest assured of it, be neglected 
by the Assembly ; that the eternal honour of the 
Republic would be the fact of its having laboured, with- 
out ceasing, at realising the right of all to prosperity ; 
that if it were folly to allow our hopes to rise " too 
high on this subject, it was, at all events, one of those 
sublime follies to which it is very excusable to devote 
one's existence; that, moreover, a most touching and 
most noble spectacle was that of a people suspending 
for a moment the thought of its own sufferings, in 
order to administer to the sufferings of a friendly 
people : that it was easy to recognise in this the essen- 
tially generous and cosmopolitan genius of France; 
but that the more the sentiments of the people were 
deserving of respect, the more indispensable was it they 
should be expressed in a legal and regular manner. 

And I concluded by adjuring the crowd to leave 
the National Assembly in possession of its fullest 
liberty of deliberation. This fact was subsequently 
deposed to by a pupil of St. Cyr, of the name of Lucas, 
who declared he had heard my entreaties to the -people 

396 INVASION or THE national assembly. 

to leave the Assembly, and that the language in which 
I implored them was so earnest and touching that, 
in spite of himself, he could not help bursting into 
tears.* I was withdrawing for the purpose of resum- 
ing my seat, when, seized by a number of persons, 
who had closed in behind me, I was carried across the 
Salle des Pas Perdus. There was a general wish I 
should speak again ; it was even imperiously required ; 
and a circle being made, I was compelled to get upon 
a chair, and to make an address. It was then that, 
speaking of the invincible force of the Revolution of 
February, and at the same time of the absolute neces- 
sity of resting its claims to the admiration of the whole 
world on moderation and wisdom, as the only means 
of making it victorious over kings, I pronounced these 
words, since so cruelly distorted : " This revolution in 
fact was not one of those which make thrones tremble, 
but of those which make thrones fall ; " and the con- 
clusion, the summary of my discourse, was this ex- 
clamation, repeated with enthusiasm by the whole 
audience : " Vive la Republique Universelle ! M 

Almost at the same instant I was hemmed in on 
every side by robust working men, who lifted me up in 
order to carry me into the Assembly. In vain did I 
struggle violently against them ; in vain reply at dif- 
ferent intervals to the passionate acclamations which 
resounded on every side of me, the only cry worthy of 
the people was, " Long live the Republic ! " All my 
resistance was useless. As many as ten times I 

* For this deposition, which I quoted in my speech in the Assembly on 
the 24th of March, see the Monifeur. 


fell in the midst of the crowd which was pressing 
me onwards, and as often was I lifted up again 
by the brawny arms around me ; there were some 
who flung themselves upon me, in order to embrace 
me ; others were crying out : " Take care, or you will 
stifle him." If to excite such warm sympathies, while 
resolutely endeavouring to restrain them, and while serv- 
ing the cause we believe to be the true one, without 
compromise, without mob-sycophany, without a morbid 
aim at popularity, be an offence — that offence was 
mine. Let them convict me of any other, if they can ! 
It was thus that, in spite of myself, I was carried 
into the Assembly, athwart the dense mass of its 
invaders. Those who w r ere present will be able to say, 
if I did not do everything I could to prevent the 
coming catastrophe. But of what avail, at such a 
moment, my personal resistance, and the few words 
I attempted to make heard in the midst of the clamour? 
Exhausted with fatigue, and bathed in perspiration, 
I was pushed on towards the extreme benches of the 
Hall. There a workman came to me and said : " Your 
voice is gone, but if you will just write upon a bit of 
paper that you, for the last time, adjure the crowd to 
disperse, perhaps I shall be able to read it out loud 
enough to make myself heard." Taking up a pen, I 
was hastily writing these words : — " In the name of 
our country, of the Republican party, of the sovereignty 
of the people, in the interest of us all, I beseech you 
to. . . " When the fatal words, pronounced by a 
man now known to have been a traitor, were heard : 
" The National Assembly is dissolved ! " 


There was now a great rush, which swept me along 
with it, into the " Salle des Conferences/' My name 
was called out in every direction, and I was surrounded 
by a dense and very excited crowd, crying out to me to go 
to the Hotel de Ville. I replied, in the deepest dismay, 
that to go to the Hotel de Ville, would be to risk the 
spilling of blood. I desired to know where several 
of my colleagues were ; of Albert I could hear nothing, 
but some one said, that an attempt had been made to 
force Barbes to go to the Hotel de Ville, which he 
warmly resisted.* Every one now rushing towards the 
doors, I was carried away by the stream, and got out 
in such a state of confusion, that I do not know to 
this moment, by what outlet and way I reached the 
parade ground of the " Invalides." 

There I met my brother in company with a painter 
and some friends, anxiously looking for me. They 
made the most determined efforts to release me. For 
I was so hemmed in on all sides that those who 
were nearest to me were obliged, by linking arms, to 
make a barrier around me against the violence of the 
pressure. I took advantage of a moment's halt again 
to prevail upon them to disperse. " You are going to 
your deaths." I said ; but several of them in a sort of 

* This I learned afterwards was inaccurate. Although Barbes was 
decidedly opposed to the invasion of the Assembly, and had done all he 
could to prevent it, still', when he saw that the Representatives had dis- 
persed, that crowds were running through the streets in every direction, 
that the terrible cry aux armes ! was raised everywhere, mingled with the 
beating of drums, and that Paris seemed to be in a state of utter confusion, 
with great resolution he went to the Hotel de Ville, for the purpose of 
hindering any act that might be prejudicial to the cause of the people. 


delirium, pointing to their naked breasts, cried out, 
they would never dare to injure unarmed men. My 
brother here exclaimed : " What then ! it is him you 
wish to have killed?" Immediately the crowd opened; 
a cabriolet happening; to pass, it was stopped, and the 
owner, a wine-merchant, returning to Bercy, was 
obliged to get out ; but on his declaring that he had 
property of value in his carriage, we all four got into 
it, — that is the owner, the coachman, my brother, and 
myself. So completely was I prostrated, that the 
honest citizen kindly proposed to drive me to one of 
his friends, where I might refresh myself with a little 
rest, and took me accordingly to the house of a young 
man in the quarter of the Ecole de Medecine, where I 
met the kindest hospitality. I then got home after 
stopping a few moments to change my linen at a neigh- 
bouring bookseller's, Citizen Masson ; he was himself 
absent, but his nephews kindly received me. 

To assert, therefore, as a newspaper has dared to do, 
that I was seen at the Hotel de Ville, is a falsehood 
which has never been exceeded in impudence. 

Hearing, on arriving at home, that the Assembly 
had again met, I hurried off instantly to my post. 

On reaching the vestibule, I was recognised by some 
National Guards. They fell upon me in a state of 
incredible rage. " Impeach him ! '' said some ; " Kill 
him, and so have done with it ! " cried others. Fortu- 
nately for me several of their comrades — I mention it 
with pleasure — defended me with as much warmth 
as the others had attacked me. General Duvivier 
protected my life, sword in hand. Among those who 


surrounded me, and who succeeded in saving me from 
the blind fury of my assailants, I may mention with 
gratitude my colleagues La Hochejacquelin, Boulay de 
la Meurthe, Wowlowsky, Adlesward, my countryman 
Conti, a Representative from Corsica, Citizen Mous- 
sette, the artist Gigoux, a lieutenant of the National 
Guard, named Feary, a delegate of the Luxembourg. 
I have been since informed that M. Arago, true to our 
long friendship, had hurried out of the Assembly to 
my assistance. I am happy at this opportunity of 
here recording my gratitude to him and my other 

It is more than probable that without their inter- 
ference it had been all over with me. My hair was 
torn out by handfulls ; my coat rent in pieces ; some 
of the wretches attempted to bayonet me from behind ; 
and one, unable to reach me in any other way, seized 
my right hand, and violently twisted my fingers. When 
I got into the Assembly, I was really a heap of rags. 
After such treatment, I might, it seems to me, have 
expected to receive from every one of my colleagues, 
some of those attentions that are suggested by a feeling 
of humanity. But such is the cruel effects of miscon- 
ceptions inevitable in times of revolution, that I en- 
countered from part of the Assembly nothing but the 
greatest hostility of feeling. My presence in the 
tribune, to which I was summoned b}^ the most impe- 
rious of duties, that of testifying in favour of my 
unfortunate friends, Albert and Barbes, was the signal 
for an outburst of the most violent murmurs. 

Can it be true, as several newspapers have stated, 


that with these murmurs were mixed up insults such 
as a man of spirit cannot brook ? I have a right to 
deny it, not only because I did not hear them, but 
because I afterwards wrote a letter, desiring the 
authors of these inserted insults to make themselves 
known. Now this letter has never received a reply, 
and I have sufficient respect for the Assembly of which 
I was one, to believe that it did not contain a single 
person capable of descending to an anonymous and 
irresponsible insult. 

According to the Moniteur of the day, permission to 
prosecute Albert was given by a unanimous vote. There 
is no correctness whatever in this assertion. 

Such, related with the most perfect and minute 
accuracy, is what I did and suffered on the 15th of 

As much as I deplore the acts of that day, and much 
as I have been injured by them, I think it right, in 
justice to the people of Paris, here to protest against 
the expressions, " sanguinary vengeance," iC despera- 
does," "men, only wanting a temporary triumph to select 
their victims,"* &c. &c, which were evidently intended 
by his lordship to leave upon his readers an impression 
of savage ferocity on the part of the actors in that extra- 
ordinary scene. If anything is to be wondered at, it 
certainly is that in a dense, highly excited, and armed 
crowd, no acts of violence or wanton mischief should 
have been committed. Can Lord Normanby point out 
a single drop of blood spilt, a single personal injury 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. pp. 393— 326. 

L> D 


inflicted by "desperadoes," ripe, as he seems to think, 
for massacre, and that, too, under circumstances 
when they might have easily gratified their " san- 
guinary vengeance ? " Does he not himself give illus- 
trations of the thoughtful consideration, kindness, 
courtesy, he and some ladies under his care met 
from those who chanced to be near him, one of the 
leaders, at the cost of great trouble, offering to escort 
Lord Normanby and his party, and making way for 
them through the crowd, which opened to let them 
pass ? * No doubt his lordship, as a gentleman, re- 
turned thanks which, as a historian, he has thought it 
proper to suppress. But I cannot help regretting, with 
the Journal des Debats in its comments on this very 
passage, that " he had not a word of kindness to throw 
to the poor devils that had protected him." 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 398. 



louis bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

It would be difficult to exaggerate the evil conse- 
quences of the 14th of May. Then it was that the 
monarchical parties began to feel the possibility of 
sapping the Republic ; then it was that the work of the 
re-action really began. The " Commission Executive " 
was rapidly undermined. M. Ledru Rollin found 
himself the subject of the most virulent attacks in 
every Orleanist or Legitimist paper. M. Caussidiere 
was removed from the prefecture of police, in spite of, 
and partly, perhaps, on account of, the protection M. 
de Lamartine seemed to bestow upon him. As to 
M* de Lamartine himself, who had lost ground amongst 
the people by coquetting with the Monarchists, being 
now deserted by them, he saw his ascendancy vanished, 
as if by magic. 

Like these gentlemen, I had not, in the eyes of the 
monarchical parties, the serious demerit of being in 
office ; but mine was the much greater sin of being 
still more popular out of power than in it, thanks to 
the exclusive policy which had aroused the jealousy 
and the apprehensions of the people. It became, there- 
fore, the hope of those who had already conceived the 

D D 2 

404 LOUIS bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

design of overturning the Republic, in some way or 
other to dispose of me. 

That, after my efforts, — strenuous, known to all, and 
officially attested by the Moniteur, — on behalf of the 
safety and dignity of the Assembly when invaded, my 
conduct on that occasion should be seized upon as a 
pretext for ruining me, might appear incredible, if, in 
civil dissensions, anything could be incredible. 

So little had I at that time fathomed the depths of 
party hatred, that, in spite of several ominous circum- 
stances, the occurrence of so monstrous a prosecution 
seemed to me utterly impossible. On the 31st of May, 
feeling myself indisposed, I happened to go to the 
Assembly later than usual ; as I entered, I heard my 
name mentioned by the member who was speaking, 
M. Pietri, the same person who has lately ceased to be 
Louis Bonaparte's Prtfet de Police. Inquiring of those 
near me what was going on, I learnt to my great 
astonishment, that a request had just been made to the 
Assembly by the two law officers of the Government, 
MM. Portalis and Landrin, for leave to prosecute me. 

Thus, a most important step had been taken against 
me, without my receiving the slightest notice of it, 
and I had run the risk of being condemned without 
being heard. Carried away by a feeling of indignation 
which I could not master, I rushed to the tribune. 
As a man, I had nothing to explain or to excuse; but, 
us a representative of the people, it was my duty to say, 
and I did say, that they were precipitating themselves 
into a path which must lead to sanguinary collisions, to 
tire internecine strife of parties, to the re-establishmcnt 


of the pain of death, and to civil war. Never shall I 
forget the violence with which the royalist majority 
interrupted me, when I spoke of the penalty of death. 
" Who will restore it ? What do you mean ? Who 
will restore it ? " — was the cry which furiously assailed 
me from all parts of the house. I replied : " The 
terrible logic of human passions, once let loose." 
Indeed, this demand for my prosecution was simply 
a demand for my proscription; and, by a strange 
coincidence, the day on which it was made, was the 
anniversary of that memorable 31st of May, 1793, 
when the proscription of the Girondists gave the 
signal for the fearful struggles in which the members 
of the Assembly were seen stained with each other's 

Several members rose in succession to give their 
testimony in my favour. So monstrous was the 
indictment, that many of my most ardent political 
opponents took up my defence, amongst whom I have 
already cited M. Pietri. But the majority of the 
Assembly would not be persuaded. Eighteen Com- 
missaires were appointed to examine whether the 
demand for leave to prosecute me ought to be ad- 
mitted. These gentlemen met, accordingly, and, after 
a warm discussion, in which, I was informed, my cause 
had been most eloquently and indignantly advocated 
by MM. Theodore Bac, Dupont (de Bussac), and 
Jreslon, it was decided, by a majority of fifteen to 
three, that the prosecution should take place. 

On the 2nd of June, the report on my case was 
brought up by M. Jules Favre. 

406 louis Bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

M. Jules Eavre is a man of an almost unparalleled 
talent as orator ; lie has rendered and can still render 
great services to the Republic ; and, for this reason, I 
will refrain from uttering any bitter word of complaint 
as regards the course he thought proper to pursue on 
that occasion — a course which could not fail to be, in 
the Republican party, a matter of painful and general 
astonishment. His conclusion was that the Assembly 
ought not to interpose a barrier of parliamentary 
privilege against the claims of justice. Reasonable 
enough, if there had been even a shadow of pretext 
for the accusation. But no. 

I was accused of having said to the people, on the 
15th of May : "I congratulate you on your having con- 
quered the right of petition, which they will never be 
able henceforth to take away from you." And in a letter 
addressed to the President of the Assembly, M. Barbes 
nobly declared that the words attributed to me had 
been uttered by himself, giving as a proof the account 
of the Moniteur, where, indeed, they were found after 
his name. 

I was suspected of having repaired, on the evening 
of the 15th of May, to the Hotel de Ville, with a view 
to form a new government. And the Mayor of Paris, 
M. Marrast, one of my bitterest opponents at that 
period, made a solemn declaration that the result of 
a minute inquiry was, I had not set my foot there. 

In fact, Lord Normanby himself, speaking of these 
extraordinary proceedings, feels bound to say : " It 
must be owned that, if the Assembly were to exercise 
the functions of a grand-jury, nothing could be weaker 


than the statements in the requisition upon which the 
indictment was founded." * 

This became so manifest that, although the ministers 
had authorised the demand, all of them with the 
exception of one only, thought themselves bound, as 
representatives of the people, to vote against it ; and, 
upon the division, it was rejected by a majority of 369 
to 337.f 

In consequence of their defeat, MM. Portalis, 
Landrin, and Jules Favre, gave in their resignation, 
immediately followed by that of M. Cremieux, Minister 
of Justice. 

One might think the question completely settled. 
How my opponents contrived to revive it, and under 
what circumstances, will be seen hereafter. 

This was going on just on the eve of a most impor- 
tant event. 

Some of the representatives of Paris having been 
elected also in other places, and two of them, MM. 
Caussidiere and Father Lacordaire, having, from 
various motives, given in their resignation, eleven 
candidates were to be elected by the Parisians. The 
following was the list of the members returned : 



Moreau .... 




Changarnier .... 


Thiers .... 


Pierre Leroux 

. 91,375 

Victor Hugo 

. 86,965 

* " A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. pp. 436, 437. 
t Moniteur of the 3rd of June, 1848. 

408 louis bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte . . 84,426 

Lagrange 78,682 

Boisset 77,247 

Proudhon 77,094 

Sucli a result was, in many respects, remarkable. 
The name of M. Caussidiere at the head of the poll 
showed clearly enough that the feelings of the popula- 
tion of Paris were not in accordance with those by 
which the Royalists were actuated in the Assembly ; 
and the number, comparatively so considerable, of the 
Socialist candidates elected, was an unmistakeable indi- 
cation of the signal progress of the new ideas in Paris. 
But what, even much more than this, struck both the 
Government and the leaders of the Assembly, was the 
unexpected election of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. 

A rumour, skilfully spread by his partisans, that he 
would not be allowed to take his seat in the Assembly, 
became a source of agitation. For some days the 
uncertainty of the decision to be taken on the subject, 
attracted masses of people towards the legislative 
palace. Excited groups collected on the Place de la 
Concorde, and thronged the approaches to the Assembly. 
They were no doubt, at least to a certain extent, under 
the influence of a name not less powerful than fatal ; 
but their excitement arose from the idea that an excep- 
tional decree of banishment against Louis Bonaparte 
was about to be propounded, which appeared to them 
both an injustice and an infringement of their electoral 
rights. It is true that the Bonaparte family had been 
excluded from France by a distinct law, dated 13th 
of January, 1816; but this law seemed to have been 


abrogated de facto, as two cousins of Louis Bonaparte 
and the son of Murat were, at that very moment, 
sitting in the National Assembly. 

In this state of things, what ought to have been the 
policy of the Executive Commission? 

It was obvious that, by shutting the doors of the As- 
sembly against Louis Bonaparte, they would create in 
his favour a new and dangerous influence, independent 
of his name and in addition to it, as such a course could 
have no other effect than to procure for him that kind 
of interest which naturally attaches to a man who is, or 
is supposed to be, injured . Moreover, thus to single him 
out as an exception, was to raise him, in the eyes of the 
nation, to the high position of a rival claimant for the 
Government of France ; to exhibit so marked a fear 
of him, was to make him formidable. Grant that he 
would conspire — which I have no doubt he did — it was 
surely better he should do so in the midst of us, where 
he could be closely watched, guarded against, foiled, 
and, if requisite, arrested, than that he should be 
enabled to cast his nets from a foreign country, with 
no risk of personal entanglement. Had he got into 
the Assembly, what then ? Without eloquence, with- 
out parliamentary experience, without any of those 
qualifications through which a man acquires a mastery 
over political assemblies, placed face to face with 
eminent men in every way superior to him, and con- 
stantly subject to be called upon by them for any 
explanation his acts might suggest, he would have soon 
dwindled to nothing. Out of the Assembly he must 
have been surrounded by an entourage little likely to 

41.0 louis bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

recommend him, and exposed to an intercourse with 
the zealots of his party, whose indiscretions might at 
any moment have ruined him. On the contrary, being 
abroad, he was in a position to mature his plans at 
leisure, and with all required caution ; whilst, on the 
other hand, he had all the benefit of an exile, which 
in association with his name, was sure to tell on the 
imagination of the people of France. In the physical 
world, the farther off a man is, the smaller he appears ; 
but, in the moral world, the farther he is off, the 
greater he appears. The only danger, then, despite 
these probabilities of failure, had he been in Paris, lay 
in the chance that the influence of his name among 
the peasantry, might throw him up, by means of 
Universal Suffrage, into the Presidency of the Re- 
public. This, there was a simple and decisive way to 
prevent. All that was requisite, was to enact in the 
Constitution about to be framed, that there should 
be no Presidency chosen by universal suffrage, that is, 
no executive power utterly independent of the legis- 
lative power, derived from the same source, having 
therefore equal or even superior weight, and often 
subject, by the very nature of things, to be brought into 
collision with it.* 

* So satisfied was I, from the first, of the vicious character of this 
anarchical organisation, that in a special work on this subject, written at 
the time and afterwards published as a pamphlet, I thus expressed 
myself : — 

"A society with two heads can exist only at the cost of the most 
frightful convulsions, and, even so, cannot exist for any great length of 
time. When power is tossed backwards and forwards between one man 
and an Assembly, it is absolutely certain that either this Assembly brings 


But now arises a much higher question than that 
of policy. Was this exclusion just? True, Louis 
Bonaparte had twice come forward as a Pretender — 
once at Strasbourg, again at Boulogne — but a Pre- 
tender against the crown of Louis Philippe, when 
Boyalty existed; whereas he had not only tendered 
his allegiance to the Bepublic, but actually offered it 
his services. As to such a declaration being to all 
appearance insincere, this was merely a matter of 
watchfulness, not of punishment ; and the Government 
— more especially a Republican one, was bound in 
duty to wait for some overt act of conspiracy, and, 
before punishing, to give him the benefit of a fair trial. 
I know there are people who think that what are 
called " reasons of state," may cover any species of 
policy. Nothing could be more dangerous. To strike 
at a man not lawfully declared guilty, is to strike at the 
safety of all, and the blow recoils on humanity at large. 
For my part, so thoroughly am I convinced of the 
necessity of undeviating strictness in such matters, 
that, in my opinion, the slaughter of thousands of men 
from a mistaken sense of right, is a less calamity than 
the sacrifice of a single man by an open violation of 

Be this as it may, the Executive Commission mis- 
took, as I conceive, both the nature of the danger 
and that of the prevention. On the 12th of June, 

on a 10th of August (the day when Louis XVI. monarchy was overthrown 
by the Assembly in 1792), or that this man brings on an 18th Brumaire." 
— Nouveau Monde, par Louis Blanc, 1849. 

Whether this prophecy has been realised or not, every one knows ! 

412 louis bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

M. de Lamartine went to tlie Assembly, with the in- 
tention of moving that the law excluding the Bonaparte 
family from France, should be exceptionally applied to 
Louis Bonaparte. Accordingly, he opened the subject 
by a long desultory speech, which was received with 
so much coldness, that he became evidently discon- 
certed, and, after some time, requested a momentary 
adjournment of the debate, on the ground of fatigue. In 
this interval, reports having reached the house of some 
disturbances amongst the crowds outside, M. de La- 
martine rushed again to the tribune, and exclaimed — 
" A fatal event breaks in upon the speech I had com- 
menced. Several shots have been fired, one at the 
Commander-in-chief of the National Guard of Paris, 
another upon an officer of the line, a third has 
wounded an officer of the National Guard in the 

breast When the audacity of the factious is 

caught in the act, their hands dyed with the French 
blood, the law I propose ought to be voted by accla- 

But it having been, in the meanwhile, ascertained 
that the reports on which the speaker rested his remarks 
were inaccurate ; that instead of three shots there had 
been only one ; and that the blood shed, was the blood 
of a National Guard who had accidentally wounded 
himself; these appeals to the sympathies of the 
Assembly were not attended with the desired effect. 
One other reason for this was, that M. de Lamar- 
tine had now lost the car of the Assembly, and found 
himself under the ban of the same jealousies and 
dislikes to which I had been exposed. 


The next day, the question was to be brought to 
a conclusion, and I took part in the debate. 

Lord Normanby says: "It is understood that all 
among the lower classes whom Louis Blanc can in- 
fluence, are in favour of the Bonaparte movement." * 
His Lordship is entirely mistaken, if he means that 
the classes alluded to, received any encouragement 
from me. Not only was I not in favour of what Lord 
Normanby calls the "Bonaparte movement," but I 
was most anxious to check it, by removing its cause, — 
an exclusion, which had an air of injustice, and might 
lead to a system of political proscriptions. 

It was prompted by this feeling that, on the 13th 
of June, I ascended the tribune ; where I stated at 
length the arguments above-mentiond, against the 
proscription of Louis Bonaparte : " Don't magnify," 
said I, " the stature of Pretenders by keeping them at 
a distance. What we want is, to see them near, that 
we may take a juster measure of their size." f 
Having observed that, to make the Republic great, 
generous, and beneficial to the people, was the surest 
way to make Pretenders impossible, I added : " What 
said Louis Bonaparte's uncle ? That ( the Republic 
is like the Sun/ Well ! let the emperor's nephew 
approach the sun of our Republic. I am confident 
he will disappear in his rays." % And disappear in 
his rays he certainly would have done, had the Be- 
public, as I warned them, made itself a sun. The 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. i. p. 40G. 
T Moniteur, S6ance du 13 Jain, 1848. 
J Ibid. 

414 louis bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

grounds on which I supported my views, far from 
having reference to the interest of any one man what- 
ever, were essential to the cause I had devoted myself to, 
and such as every true Republican must abide by. 
A brief extract from my speech will illustrate them : — 
" . . . . It is enough for me to say, that, according 
to my ideas, all laws of exclusion and proscription are 
laws thoroughly anti -republican. That same logic of 
Republicanism which does not permit a son to wear a 
crown, simply because his father has worn it, that same 
logic also refuses to admit that a son may be punished 
for the crimes of his father. The logic of Republic- 
anism, which rejects hereditary transmission in the 
act of exercising power, cannot admit hereditary re- 
sponsibility in the application of punishments. And 
this is, as far as I am concerned, why I resolutely 
voted against the proscription of the D'Orleans family, 
though I passed ten years of my life in combating 
their fatal royalty." * 

But whilst thus insisting, as the first and greatest of 
<ill considerations, upon an unswerving fidelity to 
justice, I was neither blind nor indifferent to the 
danger of a possible contingency. Therefore was it 
I formally moved that the following clause should be 
inserted, in the new constitution about to be framed : 

" In the French Republic, founded on the 24th of 
February, 1848, there shall be no such office as that 
of President." 

M. Ledru Rollin, taking an opposite view of the 

* Moniteur, Seance du 13 Juin, 1848. 


question, spoke against the admission of Louis Bona- 
parte with much animation and eloquence, but in vain. 
The decision of the Assembly was, that Louis Bona- 
parte should be allowed to return to his country, and 
to take his seat. Only, the idea I had put forth of 
removing the danger of his being ever elected Pre- 
sident, by declaring there should be no Presidency, 
found very little favour in an Assembly whose majority 
saw in a President the shadow of a monarch. M. de 
Lamartine, in this particular respect, agreed with the 
majority ; and, I am sorry to say, even to a considerable 
portion of the Republican party it seemed hardly 
possible that a Republic could exist without a President. 
So much were their minds biassed by the practice of 
the United States ! So blind were they to the neces- 
sity of entirely subordinating the Executive in a Re- 
public that maintains an immense standing army ! * 

The real danger w r as there, and not at all in the 
admission of Louis Bonaparte as member of the 
Assembly. He himself felt so sensibly that his pre- 
sence in Paris could have no better result for him than 
to lower his position, and to lessen his favourable 
chances, that he refrained from taking advantage of 
the vote of the Assembly, and preferred remaining in 

* Whether, in France, the evil of a standing army could not be remedied 
was not then the question. Eight or wrong, a standing army, being gene- 
rally considered a necessity, could not be discarded as an element of political 

As to the United States, it must be remarked that there are there three 
independent powers, all, it is true, deriving equally from the people, but 
by different processes, which peculiarly affect the result ; and there is no 
standing army. 

410 LOUIS Bonaparte's proscription cancelled. 

exile, waiting for the opportunity to present himself 
as a candidate, were a President of the Republic to 
be elected. 

What was, then, the best way to baffle his expec- 
tations ? The Assembly had only to declare that 
there should be no President at all, or, at least, no 
President chosen by universal suffrage.* Whether I 
might have succeeded in spreading my opinions upon 
this most important point, widely enough to make 
them prevalent, had I been in Paris when the plan of 
a new Constitution was discussed, is very little pro- 
bable. But, at all events, I was determined to spare 
no effort to avert the peril. Unfortunately, whilst 
I was deprecating the proscription of others, my 
opponents were at work, preparing everything for my 

* A President chosen by the Assembly was one of tlie modes suggested. 




To reject the remedy is not to save the sufferer. 
The number of starving or nearly starving men was im 
mehse. The institution of the National Workshops, such 
as it had been designed, devoured vast sums of public 
money in useless labour, sterile and humiliating as 
being a sort of hypocritical alms-giving, under a flimsy 
veil. The population in the workshops went on in- 
creasing from day to day, and into that bottomless 
gulf the treasure of the State was recklessly cast. 
What was to be done ? 

It occurred to those who had denounced the organi- 
sation of labour as a chimera, that there was one way 
of getting rid of these embarrassing National Work- 
shops. Why not dissolve them ? Dissolve them, in- 
deed ! But to dissolve them without providing an 
outlet for the menacing turbulence which they con- 
tained, without furnishing employment to the legions 
of men who had been simply kept alive by an expedient 
— in a word, to dissolve the National Workshops with- 
out falling into Socialism, which the re-actionists were 
determined to avoid at any cost, this was a more 
stupendous act of folly than it had been to organise 

E E 


them ; as it was to let loose a hundred thousand 
famished men, armed to the teeth, and likely to be 
driven to fury through despair. But alas! the coalesced 
parties were equally alarmed at the danger and at its 
only possible cure. Their declaration was, "No more 
National Workshops, and no Socialism." But what 
then ? The insurrection of June was the reply. 

That this fatal result had been clearly foreseen and 
heartlessly calculated upon, is what I neither can nor will 
believe. Let our detractors accuse us, in their savage 
exuberance of hate, of blood-thirstiness and destructive 
cruelty ; it is not for us, as the seekers and servants 
of true principles, to bandy calumny for calumny, but 
rather in our bitterest enemies to respect our fellow- 
creatures. I only make one assertion : That the 
Insurrection of June was the consequence of dissolving 
the National Workshops, without having recourse to 

At that moment, the favourite theme of the Re- 
actionists was this : The people have been deceived by 
promises which it was impossible to keep. Now, what 
were these promises which it was impossible to keep ? 
The people had been promised subsistence by labour. 
Was this too much in return for the blood they had 
shed ? for the protection so earnestly accorded by them 
to their very calumniators ? for the devotedness with 
which these houseless men, who had Paris at their 
mercy, kept guard at the doors of rich men's palaces? If 
even promises had been withheld, what, I ask, could i 
have saved our enemies from the famous alternative :; 
"We will live by working, or die fighting." If no 


promises were possible to keep, why did not our oppo- 
nents, who displayed so much courage against our 
Utopian follies when there were a hundred thousand 
soldiers and a force of artillery in their front, why, 
I say, did they not come forward on the tumultuous 
Place de Greve, and tell the people that their con- 
fidence was abused, and that, after all their combats, 
they could be assured of nothing — not even of sub- 
sistence by the sweat of their brow ? 

The truth is, that the men who talked of promises 
which it was impossible to keep, had exhausted every 
effort in preventing them from being kept. 

Without again mentioning the obstacles which the 
commission of the Luxembourg encountered whenever 
it attempted any practical experiment, how was the 
writer of these lines received, when, in the sitting of the 
Assembly on the 10th of May, he proposed the creation 
of a Ministry of Labour; that is to say, a ministry 
specially charged with the duty of seeking a remedy 
for the distresses of working men, and provided with 
resources to alleviate them ? There could be no appre- 
hension of the originator of this motion aspiring to a 
return to power. He had made up his mind, under 
any circumstances, to be content with his post of repre- 
sentative; and, in order to cut short objections founded 
on odious insinuations, he had declared his resolution 
in advance, from the tribune of the Assembly. Yet, 
what happened ? Why, Blues and Whites, with common 
accord, cried out, " No ! no ! No Socialism !" — But 
then it may be civil war — "No! no ! No Socialism! " — 
But, simply to drive into the streets the hundred thou- 


sand men of the National Workshops, is to drive them 
to despair. — " No ! no ! No Socialism. 3 ' In vain did 
the author of the proposition point out the black cloud 
in the horizon ; in vain did he utter these prophetic 
words : " Before February you were told to beware of 
the revolution of contempt. I tell you now to beware 
of the revolution of hunger/' Warning was useless. 
It was determined at all hazards to prevent the reali- 
sation of promises which had been declared " impossible 
to keep." The idea of dissolving the National Work- 
shops became a fixed determination with the Re- 
actionists ; and " We must have done with them " was 
adopted as a cry. 

But how? This was the unavoidable question. Will 
it be believed that the Director of the National Work- 
shops, M. Emile Thomas himself, was at length obliged 
to acknowledge that it was impossible to get out of the 
difficulty without bloodshed, except by adopting at 
least a part of the doctrines of the Luxembourg — those 
very doctrines which he had been appointed by M. 
Marie to declaim against and to resist. Lest this con- 
version should appear too improbable, I will quote tcxt- 
ually the precise words of M. Emile Thomas himself: 

" I proposed that there should be appointed by 
election, in every trade, and in Paris to begin with, 
a Syndicate, composed half of masters and half of 
workmen ; and that there should be nominated a 
magisterial syndic as well as a trade manager. 
Regularly constituted, these trade syndicates would 
have formed beyond the limits of their special 
trade, each by a delegation of two members, superior 


syndicates (in the building, clothing, or provision 
trades, &c). In the same way, these superior syndicates 
would have composed a council-general of the indus- 
trial occupations, subject to the administration of the 
Ministry of Public Works, or of the Ministry of 

"Addressing themselves to the urgent question of 
the day — the general stagnation of business — each of 
the syndicates would have furnished a provisional 
tariff for the labour of its branch of trade, taking 
the hour as the standard measure. Then each syn- 
dicate would have delegated its manager to the 
administration of the special workshops, into which 
would have been admitted, at half- wages, the men of 
each trade wanting work. The workshops and manu- 
factories out of work would have furnished imme- 
diately, on very easy terms, room and implements. 

"In these workshops might have been produced 
those delicate objects of manufacture, in which the 
raw material is insignificant as compared with the work- 
manship ; as is the case with the greater part of the 
Parisian trades. The product of this labour forming 
a guarantee for the repayment of the advances of the 
State for the maintenance of the workmen, would 
have been delivered for exportation, or sold at the 
ruling prices of the home market; the profits in the 
latter case being reserved to the syndicates, as a reserve 
fund of mutual succour. Ranges of buildings would 
have been constructed, destined for working men, and 
composed of small furnished houses, of two or three 
stories only, and inhabited by three or four families. 


These buildings would have been furnished with com- 
mon bakeries, kitchens, and furnaces ; and, in short, 
everything that constitutes the cheapness and advan- 
tage of association /'* 

Now, I ask the reader if the plagiarism be not 
complete enough? This scheme, which M. Emile 
Thomas had the intrepidity to call his plan, was 
nothing more and nothing less than a clumsy copy of 
that very plan proposed at the Luxembourg, which 
M. Emile Thomas had incessantly denounced. 

Special workshops, open to men of each trade 
wanting work ; State security upon the product of the 
labour for the repayment of the advances made; the 
collective character given to the employment of the 
profits ; the construction of buildings for working men 
in association : nothing was omitted ! It was all very 
well for M. Emile Thomas to excuse himself by saying, 
that " to adopt his plan would not be to fall into the 
system of M. Louis Blanc," but only " to substitute, 
in that order of ideas, for the direct action of the 
State, its security or its succour." f Such an evasion 
as this, was too gross an imposition on the indifference 
or ignorance of the public. What other action of the 
State had I ever recommended than its commandite 
and its guarantee? Had M. Emile Thomas been 
courageous enough to avow his conversion, he would have 
confessed that his attacks upon the Luxembourg were 
inconsistent and unjust; that the perils of the situation 

* Histoire des Ateliers Nationaux, par M. fimile Thomas, pp. 240, 
241, 242. 
t Ibid., p. 240. 


could be averted only by the adoption of the Luxem- 
bourg system; that Socialism was not what he had 
fancied it was before he came to study it ; and that 
it was the only possible means of putting an end to 
M. Marie's National Workshops, without deluging 
Paris in blood. 

M. Emile Thomas was far from being willing to 
do this, and down he went to the Hotel de Ville to 
develop as his own, the ideas he had been com- 
missioned to calumniate. But MM. Corbin, Beth- 
mont, and Danguy, were not to be deceived. They clearly 
perceived the origin of the proposed transformation of 
the National Workshops, and rejected it peremptorily. 

M. Marie having been appointed a Member of the 
Executive Commission, it was upon M. Trelat, as the 
then Minister of Public Works, that, from and after 
the 12th of May, devolved the responsibility of de- 
ciding the fate of the National Workshops. Never was 
a more singularly incapable man charged with a more 
serious task. All that M. Trelat succeeded in doing, 
was to substitute M. Lalanne for M. Emile Thomas; 
to form a Commission of the National Workshops, 
whose profound conceptions never saw the light, and 
whose overt intervention was confined to measures 
scandalously insignificant ; to betray his former friends; 
to stain his political reputation by an alliance with his 
old antagonists; and to commit acts of arbitrary power, 
which recalled to mind the tyranny of the Council 
of Ten at Venice. 

And during this time, the great sore festered and 
increased. Previous to the dismissal of M. Emile 


Thomas, M. Trelat had sent him a decree, which, 
among other oppressive clauses, contained the fol- 
lowing : — 

" The unmarried working men, between the ages of 
eighteen and twenty-five, will be invited to enrol them- 
selves under the banners of the Republic, to complete 
the different regiments of the army ; those who refuse 
to enlist as volunteers will be immediately removed from 
the listes d'embrigadement of the National Workshops. 
Masters may call upon as many of their working men 
(of the National Workshops) as they may declare wanted 
for the resumption or continuation of their business ; 
those who refuse, will be immediately removed from 
the general list of the National Workshops." 

This monstrous decree was signed : 

" For the Ministry of Public Works, by (authorisa- 
tion) the Secretary-General, Boulage." 

Thus we find the youngest men called out to make 
themselves food for powder, and the rest to sell them- 
selves at the price offered for them. True, this was a 
way to avoid Socialism ! 

Such was the state of things when the intrigues of 
the Bonapartist party came to complicate the crisis. 
Of all the subjects that harassed the Executive Com- 
mission, none caused more anxiety than the approach- 
ing arrival of M. Louis Bonaparte. Now, the National 
Workshops were actively tampered with at that moment 
by Bonapartist agents. Not that their efforts were 
highly successful ; but in that vast mass of regiments of 
workmen, the fears of the Executive Commission and of 
the political party of the National, discerned an army 


ready to a pretender's hands. It is certain, however, 
that the dominant influence set in motion was that 
of Socialism. This I do not for a moment deny; in 
spite of all the arts of calumny and corruption that had 
been industriously employed to sow dissension between 
the men of the National Workshops, and the delegates 
of the Luxembourg, yet the moment had arrived when 
the good sense of the people prevailed, and ranged the 
entire body, united by one spirit, under one flag. I 
think it advisable to give the proclamation, which 
was addressed to the people by the delegates of the 
Luxembourg, united with those of the National 
Workshops, in the beginning of June. It will show 
the sort of influence exercised by the well-abused 
leaders of the Luxembourg. 

"Working Men, 

" We, delegates of the workmen at the Luxembourg ; 
we, delegates of the National Workshops ; devoted as 
we are body and soul to the Republic, for which, like 
all of you, we have fought : we pray you in the name 
of that Liberty so dearly bought, in the name of the 
country regenerated by you, in the names of Fraternity 
and Equality, neither by word nor act to lend counte- 
nance to anarchical cries ; nor to lend your arms and 
your hearts to encourage the partisans of the throne 
which you lately burnt.* These unprincipled men 
would inevitably bring anarchy into the midst of the 
country, which has need only of liberty and labour. 

* The royal throne had "been taken and actually hurnt in the Place de 
la Bastille. 


" No one henceforth can be suffered to claim any 
other title than the noblest of all, that of citizen. 

"No one must resist the true sovereign, the people. 

" To attempt it, would be an execrable crime, and 
whoever should dare it, would be a traitor to Heaven 
and to his country. 

"The re-action is at work and in movement: its 
numerous emissaries will entice you, Brothers, with 
irrealisable and senseless dreams ; it is sowing gold 
broadcast : beware ! Brothers, beware ! wait yet a few 
days with that calmness which you have already shown, 
and which is your true strength. 

" Hope ! for the time is come, the future is ours : 
do not encourage by your presence manifestations 
which are only popular in name : have nothing to do 
with those follies of another time. 

" Believe us : listen to us : nothing is possible now 
in France but the Democratic and Social Republic. 

" The history of the last reign is a terrible one ; let 
us not continue it. No more Emperors, nor Kings. 
Nothing but Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. 

" Vive la Republique ! 
"Pierre Vincard, President des Delegues du Lux- 
" Auguste Blum, Vice-President. 
" Jullien, Tresorier. 
" Lefaure, Secretaire. 

" Bacon, President des Delegues des Ateliers Nationaux. 
"Eugene Garlin, Secretaire. 
" Petit-Bonnaud, Lieutenant. 
" Ardillon, Lieutenant." 


Let us here mention a fact, little known, and which, 
deserves to be published. On the eve of the day on 
which a Bonapartist demonstration was expected, the 
President of the Delegates of the Luxembourg was 
sent for to the Chateau de Bagatelle, by one of the 
members of the Executive Commission : by the one who 
has since declaimed so emphatically against popular 
manifestations, and who boasts of having, on the 16th 
of April, saved society, which no man threatened, — by 
M. de Lamartine, if I must call him b}' his name. 
And what, is it supposed, was the object of this 
singular conference ? The object was, at M. de Lamar- 
tine's instigation, to prepare, by means of the delegates 
of the Luxembourg, against Louis Bonaparte, and in 
support of the Executive Commission, a second 16th 
of April. Only, this time M. de Lamartine was to 
head the manifestation, not to combat it. But the 
men of the Luxembourg were not the puppets of am- 
bition : they were determined to remain, and they did 
remain, the servants of the people. 

Hours passed on : " We give three months' misery to 
the Republic," the working men had nobly said, and 
now the day of payment was past ! On the 22nd of 
June, the note concerning the enrolment of workmen, 
the forced enrolment (since it was a condition imposed 
upon starving men), burst in the Moniteur like a 
thunderbolt. At several points, especially on the 
Place St. Sulpice, working men gathered together 
simultaneously. The " brigades " sent to Corbeil 
precipitately abandoned their work, and returned to 
Paris : the first rumblings of civil war began to be 


heard. The National Workshops were about to be dis- 
solved without falling into Socialism. — But the civil war 
was at hand ! — No } no ! No Socialism ! 

How did M. Lalanne, the new director of the 
National Workshops, the confidential agent of M. 
Trelat, express himself? 

"The chefs d' arrondissenient are invited to send each 
the fiftieth part of their effective strength at three o'clock 
this afternoon, to the Manege, to be ready for departure 
to-day, to-morrow, and day after to-morrow. I will speak 
myself to the well-disposed men who present themselves. 
The Government desires the men to set out. The order 
of the Government must be executed this very day." 

Surely, this was the language of despotism. What 
destination, what kind or condition of employment, 
was reserved for the poor proscribed men whom the 
saviours of society were hurrying away ? All this was 
left in darkness. 

At nine o'clock, on the morning of the 22nd of June, 
M. Pujol, delegated by the working men to the Execu- 
tive Commission, was admitted with four of his com- 
rades to an interview with M. Marie. He represented 
that, since the Revolution of February the working men 
had been subject to arbitrary administration : that 
they had shed their blood for the attainment of a 
democratic and social Republic, which would put an 
end to the tyranny of man over man : that they were 
resolved to make sacrifices for the maintenance of the 
public liberties : but that they demanded, above all, 
the organisation of workshops as a refuge to work- 
men." "The workmen," broke out M. Marie with 


violence, " who do not submit to the decree will 
be sent out of Paris by force." Let it be borne in 
mind that this was the same M. Marie who, during the 
Provisional Government, said to M. Emile Thomas, 
"Can you count upon the working men? Spare no 
money : if need be, you shall be supplied with secret 
funds. Perhaps the day is not far distant when we must 
make the workmen descend into the street." 

The reply of M. Pujol, as I find it in a journal of 
the day,* supplied with information by the direct 
representatives of the working classes, was as follows : 

" Citizen Representatives, you insult men invested 
with a sacred character as delegates of the people ; we 
withdraw with the profound conviction that you neither 
desire the organisation of labour, nor the prosperity of 
the French people." 

" Your heads have been turned," rejoined M. Marie. 
"It is the system of M. Louis Blanc. We will have 
nothing to say to it." 

Unfortunately, M. Marie forgot to add what system 
he proposed to substitute for mine : and, as it had 
become an imminent necessity to find a substitute 
for civil war, and as none was found, civil war was 

In the evening of the 22nd of June, as soon as the 
conversation between M. Pujol and M. Marie became 
known, columns of workmen proceeded from the 
Pantheon by the light of torches, in a state of great 

* La Vraie Ripublique. 


That nothing could be reasonably expected from a 
popular rising but lamentable results, seemed obvious 
from the fact of the Bonapartist faction being busily 
engaged in fanning the flame. Amongst the agents 
employed by the Bonapartists, there stood prominent 
a mason of the name of Lahr. Lahr, a man of 
uncommon activity and fierce courage, worked under 
M. Nadaud, a master-mason, — a staunch Republican, 
afterwards representative of the people. Just on the 
eve of the insurrection, M. Nadaud, who happened to 
be directing some important works at the " Place de 
Pantheon," noticed that Lahr, one of the men he 
wanted, and whom he knew to be remarkably punctual, 
was absent. On inquiring what could have become of 
him, he soon learned that Lahr had, a little before, 
entered a public-house, at the corner of the Square. 
M. Nadaud hastened to the place, where he found 
Lahr surrounded by several workmen, the most of 
whom were Germans. No sooner had M. Nadaud 
made his appearance, than Lahr, who was seated 
drinking, rose instantly, came up to the unexpected 
visitor, and, presenting him with a glass of wine, 
exclaimed : " Welcome, old fellow ; and now, d la 
santc du petit/ 3 ' " Le petit" w r as then a familiar 
expression used by the workmen to designate either 
Louis Bonaparte or myself. "What and whom do 
you mean ? " asked M. Nadaud. " I mean," replied 
Lahr, " that we must drink the health of Louis 
Bonaparte ; as it is time for us to set ourselves to 
work" M. Nadaud pushed back with indignation the 
glass handed to him, saying : " Is this what you call 


your business ? " and he rushed out.* Well, it was 
only three days after, on the 25th of June, that the 
murder of General Brea took place at the Barriere 
de Fontainebleau, for which Lahr was sentenced to 
death and executed. But who Lahr was, and for 
whose sake he had fought, was studiously thrown into 
the shade, for the purpose of shuffling off on the 
Socialists at large, a murder committed by a Bona- 
partist, and the only treacherous act, too, connected 
with the insurrection of June. 

Of the particulars I have just related, I was not 
aware at the time ; but from many other circumstances 
I knew for a certainty that the Bonapartists were on the 
watch to turn a civil war to account, and I shuddered at 
the mere idea of the people's being deluded into pouring 
out their blood in torrents, by men who had nothing- 
better in view than the gratification of one man's 
ambition ! Naturally averse as I was to bloodshed 
whatever the motive, I had now every reason to 
object to any popular agitation; and so little did I 
conceal my feelings on the subject from those amongst 
the workmen with whom I was then especially in 
communication, that the associated tailors at Clichy 
took no part in the movement.! But, besides my 
being no longer invested with official influence, the 

* I have these important details from the host possible authority, M. 
Nadaud himself, now a refugee in England, than whom a more honourable 
and high-minded man I have never met with in my life. 

*T During the insurrection of June, the tailors at Clichy remained there, 
working as usual. This remarkable fact was stated by me, from the 
tribune, on the 25th of August, 1848, and was not contradicted, no con- 
tradiction being possible. See the Moniteur of the 26th of August, 1848. 


jealousies of the ruling power had made it very diffi- 
cult for ine to keep up any regular intercourse with 
the whole body of the Parisian workmen. At all 
events, it would have required time successfully to 
interfere ; and, although there had been for some days 
an ominous uneasiness amongst the men employed in 
the National Workshops, the insane measures which 
swelled their alarms into fury were so suddenly taken 
and carried out, that no human power could have 
prevented their direful effect. 

On the morning of the 23rd of June, I was getting 
into a cab with a countryman of mine, named M. 
Savelli, who had come to fetch and accompany me to 
the Assembly, when some five or six workmen rushed 
to the carriage-window, saying : " Friend, a great deal 
of excitement prevails in Paris. What is to be done ? M 
My heart was breaking. " Is there," I asked, " any 
particular place of meeting to which I may repair, 
and express what I feel ? " They replied hurriedly, 
with much animation : " For God's sake, don't go. 
Why should you ? Almost all Paris is in commotion, 
from the Barriere Rochechouart on the right bank of 
the Seine, to the Pantheon on the left. Where could 
you go to ? Only, let us know what you wish us to 
convey to such of our comrades as we may chance to 
meet with." "Tell them that if they rise in arms, 
there is an end of the Republic. Tell them that I 
feel acutely how hard their position is, but that, under 
the circumstances, fighting would be to make matters 
worse. Ambitious men arc not wanting, ready to 
reap the fruit of any possible tumult. Let the people 

"du pain ou du plomb." 433 

be on their guard! Even their success might be 
fatal to them, whilst their defeat would be death 
to the Republic." They did not utter a word more, 
but shaking their heads as if to imply they thought 
it was too late, warmly grasped my hand, and took 
their leave.* 

All I had now to do was to go to the Assembly, there 
to endeavour to oppose any inconsiderate or violent 
measures, come from what quarter they would, which 
might aggravate or complicate the state of things. This 
I considered to be my duty, the only course left me : 
and all my colleagues in the National Assembly, of the 
Socialist party, had come there prompted by a similar 
feeling. The fact is, that we had all of us been taken 
unawares, and were unable, amongst the confused ele- 
ments which were said to be at work, to discern the 
real import of the impending insurrection, so extremely 
rapid was the succession of events ! It was not long, 
however, before its true character developed itself. 
The Bonapartist and Legitimist factions, which for a 
moment struggled to direct it in their respective 
interests, soon perceived that their only chance of 
abetting the contest, was to strike their own flags 
and fight under that of the people, which bore these 
mournful and terribly significant words : Bread or 
Lead, — Du Pain ou du Plomb ! 

But, by the time we became completely aware of 
what the predominant element was, the Assembly had 

* A letter from M. Savelli to the President of the Commission of Inquiry 
will be found in the Monit cur's report of the sitting of the 25th of August, 

F F 


declared itself en permanence ; and from that moment, 
it would have been, of course, impossible for us to 
stir, without the certainty of being arrested on the 

On Friday, the 23rd, a compact column, which had 
formed in the Place de la Bastille, fell like an avalanche 
on the Porte St. Denis, where the first engagement took 
place. But already, whilst the National Guard were 
slowly assembling in the aristocratic quarters of the 
town, the populous streets bristled Avith barricades. 

That was the moment chosen by M. de Falloux to 
carry to the Tribune of the National Assembly the 
report which recommended the dissolution of the 
National Workshops, with the proviso of an indemnity 
of thirty francs per man ! And while M. d*e Falloux 
was bringing forward his report, the firing was begin- 
ning, the barricades were rising, all Paris was in arms. 
'f I do not think the reading of this report opportune," 
exclaimed M. Raynal; but the re-actionists insisted 
that it should be read, and M. de Falloux hastened to 
comply. Then, in order that the war against So- 
cialism should be general, there began an attack in the 
Assembly against the execution of railways by the 
State. Out of doors, the people continued to cry : Du 
Pain ou du Plomb ! 

But, as if, to stifle those words of woe, it was not 
enough to load guns with grape, to set infantry and 
cavalry in movement, to reinforce the National Guard 
with troops of the line, and the republican guard with 
the Garde Mobile, — the aid of calumny was called to 
their support. In a circular addressed to the munici- 


palities of the twelve arrondissenients, M. Marrast 
dared to represent this insurgent army of hunger 
as a horde of brigands in foreign pay. He dared to 
write these words, speaking of the chiefs of the insur- 
rection : " It is not only civil war that they would 
light up among us, it is Pillage that they prepare/' 

No doubt the parties that wore the legitimist and 
imperial liveries had crowded into their ranks, men 
ready to instigate disorder in the hope of its abetting 
the triumph of their conspiracies ; and these men were 
in effect the active agents of disorder. But to confound 
the instigations of conspirators like these, who scarcely 
dared to show their faces or their objects, with the 
true cause which was then arming thousands of fellow- 
men ; to pretend that the barricades were being reared 
against the Republic, and that Pillage was the object 
of men driven to despair, and hurrying to death, — a 
more audacious calumny, I say, was never published. 
Yet it had the success of audacious calumny. Sincere 
Republicans believed that the Republic was in peril : 
false Republicans affected to believe that it was 
attacked : there was an immense uncertainty, and an 
immense confusion. The insurgents continued crying, 
as they marched to the combat, Du Pain ou du 
Plomb ! 

Whether the insurrection might not have been pre- 
vented from the first — whether barricades need have 
been quietly left to boys to construct — whether, in 
short, General Cavaignac, by letting the insurrection 
pass, reserved to himself the sinister honour of sup- 
pressing it,— these are questions for History to solve. 


or the present, I will only state this fact, that, at four 
o' clock in the afternoon, on the 23rd of June, in the 
Faubourg St. Marceau, although it was in full insur- 
rection, the circulation was still free, and that it would 
have been perfectly easy for either the civil or the 
military authorities to ascertain that many of the 
barricades were guarded by men incompletely armed, 
and utterly without ammunition of any kind. I have 
ample evidence in my possession to produce, when the 
proper time arrives for doing justice to all. 

It is worthy of remark that this insurrection, so 
general in its causes and in its spirit, assumed at almost 
every point the character of a local protest. In many 
districts, the inhabitants reserved to themselves ex- 
clusively the guard of their own barricades, rejected the 
assistance of strangers, and after closing all access to 
their streets, refused to co-operate in the general attack. 
After the capture of the Eighth and Ninth Mairies, for 
instance, when preparations were making for storming 
the Hotel de Ville— a very strong position, strongly de- 
fended — scarcely a few hundred combatants could be 
got together at the bottom of the Rue St. Antoine. 

Reinforcements were demanded from the Fau- 
bourgs, where the barricades could easily have spared 
numbers of men, but in vain. Not but that among the 
combatants there were many who knew well that an 
insurrection which stands still, or does not go forward, 
is lost ; but that there was a total want of unity of 
direction, and many of the insurgents were paralysed by 
the sense of their inferiority in the use of their weapons. 
Fifty thousand men had taken up arms : how many in 


that number were utterly unable to use them ! Some, 
who might have vigorously defended a barricade, were 
more than inefficient for any other purpose. And whilst 
in the rich quarters of the town there were thousands 
of isolated combatants, who were on the look out for a 
loop-hole to pass over to the insurgents, there was 
probably a reserve of twenty thousand men in the 
Faubourgs, whose strength might have changed the 
fate of the battle. 

Another cause of the unwillingness of the combatants 
to venture far beyond their barricades, was the want of 
ammunition. The gunpowder was manufactured by 
the insurgents, and from this fact we may determine 
their chances of success against regular troops, amply 
furnished with all the resources of war. 

Yet, in spite of the inadequacy of the ammunition 
for offensive warfare, of the want of chiefs to concen- 
trate their movements, of means to prolong the combat, 
the indomitable energy of the insurgents was astound- 
ing. The regular troops and National Guards fought 
well, as Frenchmen always fight ; but those who were 
least liable to suspicion of sj^mpathy with the insur- 
gents, confessed that their prodigious resolution and 
audacity would have sufficed, under an able general, 
for the conquest of the world ! 

Besides, thanks to M. Marie, the Ateliers Nationaux 
had received a military organisation, and had been 
divided into brigades, squadrons, and companies, com- 
prising the men of the same arrondissement, of the 
same quarter, of the same street ; and, in a war of bar- 
ricades, in which every man resolved to fight and die at 


his own door, for the bread of his own household, such 
an organisation lent a certain ensemble to the resistance, 
although the resistance was a local one. 

The movement had continued to spread from point 
to point, until all Paris was in arms. It was not until 
Friday evening the Societe des Droits de PHomme was 
enabled to hold a meeting ; and the communications 
were already interrupted in so many places, that it was 
impossible to give the sections anything like uniformity 
of operation. Having at their head men of ardour and 
decision, the sectionaries of the eighth arrondissement 
took an active part in the attack of the Place des 
Vosges. In the offices of the Socialist journals, a 
poignant uncertainty prevailed amidst the contradictory 
rumours arriving every moment from the scene of con- 
flict. A list of names for a new Government came 
from a barricade in the Faubourg St. Marceau, contain- 
ing the name of M. de Lamartine, together with other 
names then more dear to the people. 

Overwhelming as the forces of the Government 
appeared, the end was still doubtful. At some points, 
the desperation of the insurgents was incredibly 
triumphant. In the Faubourg du Temple, where 
General Cavaignac had reconnoitred the fortresses, the 
fight assumed gigantic proportions. At the attack of the 
barricade Saint Maure, the troops suffered terrible loss, 
and were repulsed. When the darkness of night 
enveloped the streets, the insurgents were completely 
masters of that portion of the city. 

Terrible was that night — a night of expectation and 
grief! On the following morning, the heavy guns began 


to thunder once more against the Faubourg, without 
gaining the least advantage over the insurgents, while 
the troops advanced, retreated, and advanced again, with 
alternate wrath and discouragement. Until Sunday- 
evening, the blood of countrymen and fellow-citizens was 
flowing in disastrous rivalry. What was most lament- 
able of all, was the inexorable fury of the fight between 
the working-men and the Garde Mobile — between 
fathers on one side, and sons on the other! Everybody 
knows now, that when the insurrection began, the Garde 
Mobile was more disposed to join than to attack the 
insurgents. But it had been so pertinaciously asserted 
that the insurrection was against the Republic, that 
one more terrible misunderstanding was added to the 
history of civil conflicts. 

Let us pass to the Assembly. During all these 
hours of devastation, the Assembly sat en permanence, 
distracted by alternate hopes and alarms. I was there : 
and when, at a later moment, I witnessed the defiant 
boldness of certain men, I could not but remember 
their fallen looks and their pale cheeks during the 
uncertainty of the struggle. At intervals, measures of 
clemency were talked of, with a view to pacification, 
otherwise only to be effected by the extermination of 
the Faubourgs. But M. Senart, who, as President of 
the Assembly, was the official depository of information, 
took care, hour by hour, to announce solemnly every 
check sustained by the insurgents, and to conceal the 
reverses of the troops, so that it appeared impolitic 
to give quarter to men already vanquished and dis- 
persed. The Minister of Finance, M. Duclerc, was 


assailed with furious clamour, when he happened to 
avow that the insurgents had fought with courage. 
Once, and once only, the whole danger of the situation 
was laid bare with studied exaggeration. This was 
when M. Pascal Duprat proposed to declare a state of 
siege, and to confer the dictatorship upon General 
Cavaignac. " No dictatorship ! " exclaimed M. Larabit, 
clinging to the tribune, and demanding to be heard in 
the midst of the uproar. M. Bastide came forward 
and said : a Make haste ; in an hour the Hotel de Ville 
will be taken ." Thereupon, the state of siege is voted, 
and the dictatorship placed in the hands of General 
Cavaignac. In the name of the Republic, the subversion 
of all republican principles was voted by acclamation. 

I do but sketch the dark outline of this disastrous 
insurrection ; but I may add a few details which will be 
found interesting. 

That night passed without any fresh attack by the 
troops ; it was not until the following (Monday) morn- 
ing, about eight or nine o'clock, that the Faubourg was 
completely invested. The insurgents beat a retreat, 
but did not cease to tire until they had expended their 
last cartridge. At five o'clock in the evening, La 
Villette was taken : that was the end of the bloody 

An eye-witness assured me that after that final 
struggle, a National Guard shot a man for the simple 
reason that he wore a red comforter round his throat. 

I had myself a narrow escape from some of the 
party of order. Going home when the insurrection 
had just been put down, in company with several of 


my colleagues, I was set upon by a number of National 
Guards crying out : " Here is the contriver of the 
national workshops. Down with him I " Not satisfied 
with threatening to kill me, one of them clapped his 
pistol to my temple ; but the weapon, being fortunately 
struck up by one of my companions, went off in the air. 
Others rushed upon me with their sabres ; and I should 
have been killed in this cowardly way, had not my 
fellow-representatives on the spot, and some respect- 
able National Guards come to my defence, and 
succeeded, after a desperate struggle, in rescuing me 
from my murderous assailants, by forcing me into the 
Cafe Frascati, which I soon after left under the pro- 
tection of two worthy citizens, M. Bouillon, the 
lieutenant-colonel of the second legion, and one of 
my colleagues, M. Dutier. The latter gentleman's 
tilbury was waiting for him on the boulevard ; he put 
me into it, and we drove to the Assembly. Two shots 
were fired at me, from behind ! 

After the victory the reprisals were terrible. Prisoners 
huddled together in the vaults beneath the terrace, in 
the garden of the Tuileries, which faces the Seine, were 
shot at random through the air-holes in the wall : 
others were shot in masses in the Plaine de Grenelle, 
in the cemetery of Mont Parnasse, in the quarries of 
Montmatre, in the cloister of Saint Benoit, in the 
court of the Hotel de Cluny.* Wretched men, whom 

* See, in the Peuple of 12th February, 1849, the Prologue (Tune Revo- 
lution; also the depositions of the representatives of the people, MM. 
Mathe and Madet, relative to General Brea's death. Consult likewise 
the Prologue, &c, by Louis Menard, where will be found a list of 


General Cavaignac in his proclamation of the 23rd of 
June had addressed in these words — " Come to us, 
the Republic opens her arms to you" — were dragged 
before Councils of War to be judged by the men 
they had fought : and the vanquished, whom General 
Cavaignac had promised not to treat as victims, were 
despatched en masse, without trial. In short, a horrible 
and humiliating terror spread over the devastated city 
for many days. A single episode will complete the 

On the 3rd of July a considerable number of prisoners 
were taken out of the cellars of the Ecole Militaire to be 
removed to the Prefecture of Police, and thence to the 
forts. They were bound four and four with cords very 
tightly drawn. As these poor wretches exhausted by 
hunger, could hardly drag their limbs along, porringers 
filled with coarse soup were placed before them. Hav- 
ing their hands tied, they were obliged to lie down on 
their stomachs, and to drag themselves to the porringers 
like animals, amidst shouts of laughter from the officers 
of the escort, who called it " Socialism in practice." — I 
heard this from one of the unfortunate victims of this 
punishment, which no Indian savage could ever have 

But, for the honour of my country and of human 
nature, let me hasten to restore to these horrors the 
purely individual character that belongs to them. 
Thank Heaven, there is no class in France, whatever 

vast numbers of witnesses who volunteered their testimony xxudev oath, 
and were refused, in order to veil the horrors committed by some of 
the victors. 


may be its prejudices, to which such excesses can be 
imputed, even in the blindness of power and passion. 
These atrocities were the acts of scoundrels, whom 
every party would reject, but upon whom, unhappily, the 
state of siege, the public stupor, the fear and rage of 
some, the consternation of others, had for the moment 
conferred an odious authority. 

It is also essential to remember that certain journals, 
— the Constitutionnel particularly — had become perfect 
arsenals of murderous falsehoods. Every morning 
in their columns were represented, in colours of blood, 
soldiers of the Garde Mobile with their heads cut off, 
dragoons with their arms severed at the wrist, corpses 
of men poisoned by the wine of vivandieres. It may be 
imagined what was the effect at that moment of these 
infamous calumnies, which were not disproved till long 
afterwards before the Council of War. History — true 
history — on the contrary, will say that acts of generosity 
abounded even where the insurrection left the most 
deplorable traces. In the trial of a chief of barricade it 
was deposed to by a quartermaster of artillery, that the 
insurgents had established in the Rue Saint Maure a 
sort of prison, in which all who fell into their hands 
were treated with the greatest humanity, and even the 
greatest care, whether National Guards, Garde Mobile, 
or regular troops. According to the deposition of 
Captain Ribot, in the trial of one of the principal insur- 
gents, it was proved that the latter had saved the lives 
of two hundred men, whom he might have ordered to be 
shot. At several other points of the conflict, acts of 
humanity were exhibited, which party passion might 


conceal for a time, but which posterity will remember 
and admire. 

Let me now return once more to the causes, having 
related the effects. It is in the causes that we may 
read a lesson. 

The report of M. Bauchart, produced at a time when 
the re-action hungered for victims, was a monument of 
blind and shameless rage. Facts, conversations, and 
speeches were garbled and distorted ; police agents, of 
that despicable kind always at the service of power, 
were ready with their revelations. The Conspiracy 
of June was invented ! According to these witnesses, 
there was no doubt but that a vast conspiracy had 
been formed as long back as March, in which the 
principal men of the extreme party were concerned, 
and which, taking its instructions from the Luxem- 
bourg, had seduced the Ateliers Nationaux, and 
organised the insurrection. Yet it may now be asked 
why, when the numberless reports of the Council of 
War were in preparation, no attempt was made to throw 
a light on the causes of that immense uprising ? Were 
the resources of calumny exhausted on the 25th of 
August? Was it feared lest light, a blood-coloured 
light, should fall on the brows of certain men ? Why 
was no connection between the various trials established ? 
Why were the trials so carefully circumscribed within 
the circle of the material facts of the insurrection ? 
Why were the men, whose presence at the bar might 
have cleared up certain questions of moral complicity, 
sent untried to the hulks ? Why was a trial obsti- 
nately refused to Lagarde, to De Flotte, to Terson, to 


several accused journalists ? Why was Pujol, conspicu- 
ous as the bearer of the first remonstrance from the 
National Workshops, and thus more able than any one 
to throw light on the very beginning of the insurrec- 
tion, sent to the hulks after a sham examination ? 

I have explained above how it was that the resistance, 
although localised, possessed a certain character of 
ensemble, owing to the military organisation given to the 
National Workshops by M. Marie. But, as it was abso- 
lutely necessary to charge Socialism with the respon- 
sibility of a plot, how was it contrived ? To sustain this 
charge, the plan of battle prepared by the insurgents, 
the disposition of their different corps de reserve, the 
movements of their staff, the order of their attack and 
defence, were immediately published; leaving it to be 
supposed that they emanated from the Socialist leaders; 
and, to give farther countenance to this view, they 
actually brought up before a Council of War as one 
of the prime organisers of the insurrection — whom ? 
Dr. Lacambre, a well-known Socialist, who had been 
prisoner in the Conciergerie since the month of May ! * 

* This reminds me that Lord Normanhy represents Barbes as joining 
the insurgents in June, whilst he was prisoner at Vincennes ! It is true 
that this is not clearly stated in the text, which only says, vol. ii., p. 46 : 
" The colours of the 12th legion (Barbes) appeared on the top of the 
Barricade," &c. But in the Index it is thus expressly affirmed of M. 
Barbes : "Joins the Insurgents !" 

I mention this because the Index of Lord Normanby's book is strictly 
formed throughout upon the principle of stating as occurrences what in the 
text are mere suppositions or suggestions. Here is another curious 
instance. The text, vol. i., p. 320, speaking of the 16th of April, says : 
" The result of M. de Lamartine's secret information, from his own agents, 
was that a conspiracy was organised to overthrow the Provisional Govern- 


I must be permitted to insist, again and again, that the 
insurrection of June was entirely, absolutely unpre- 
pared. It was the sudden, electric, irresistible explosion 
of a people in despair. 

But, having once established the fact that the in- 
surrection was wholly and solely a war of hunger, let 
us examine what part the spirit of faction may have 
taken in that war. 

In the course of the trial of M. le Comte de Fou- 
che court, the witness Guerin declared that, in the 
month of March, he had seen on the Place de la Bastille, 
M. de Fouchecourt engaging working men at fifty 
sous a-day for the Legitimist cause. In the quarter 
of the Place Vendome resided a noble personage, 
whose house was a place of meeting for the emissaries 
of the Royalist party. During the days immediately 
preceding the insurrection, there was an unusual 
movement in that quarter of Gardes Mobiles, of work- 
ing men — real, or disguised as such — of individuals 
carrying money to and fro; the neighbourhood was 
thrown into excitement, and when the subsequent 
events occurred, the noble personage had scarcely 
time to seek safety in flight. It need scarcely be 
added that the authorities made no search. During 
the insurrection some positions were occupied by Legi- 
timists. At the Marais, they were found in the Hue 

ment the next day at the Hotel de Ville, to appoint a Committee ot 
Public Safety, to consist of MM. Arago, Ledru Rollin, Flocon, Albert and 
Louis Blanc." But, in the Index, each of these names figures in this way : 
"M. Arago joins the conspiracy to overthrow the Government ;" and so 
with the others. At least M. Arago might have been spared, in this 
skilful retouching of the text ! 


St. Louis, the Rue d'Angouleme, and the adjacent 
streets. M. de Fouchecourt was among those who 
were taken there. The deposition of the witness 
Isambert, lieutenant of artillery, states that M. de Fou- 
checourt replied, on being questioned, that he had com- 
manded a barricade, and had fought for the democratic 
and social republic. M. Berard, representative of the 
people, examined the son of M. de Fouchecourt, who said 
that he was fighting for the same cause as his father ; 
that it was in appearance for the Red Republic, but in 
reality for the legitimate monarchj^. M. de Fouche- 
court, in spite of the efforts of influential men of his 
part}-, was condemned to twenty years hard labour. 
In the Quartier Saint-Jacques, near St. Severin, a 
few Legitimists had established a sort of staff, to direct 
their operations. They distributed medals, bearing the 
effigy of Henri V., and thousands of these medals were 
afterwards discovered in a house in the Rue Saint- 
Jean de Beauvais. That very church of St. Severin 
figured at a later date in the trial of the Legion de 
St. Hubert: the pious brotherhoods so carefully orga- 
nised in every parish in the most populous quarters, 
were, in realhty, nothing but establishments for recruit- 
ing mendicity. 

Another element, which the insurrection of June 
brought for a moment into relief, was the Bonaparte 
element. In the month of June, no one knew any- 
thing of M. Louis Bonaparte, except that he was the 
nephew of his uncle, and author of two famous follies. 
It would have been easy to have reduced him to 
insignificance: the Executive Commission, by dint 


of fearing him let him live. The discussions to 
which his election gave rise in the Assembly brought 
him forward : a few foolish people were excited ; a 
few old soldiers were in agitation; the name of the 
Emperor was pronounced, and the song of Beranger 

It is perfectly true, and it is the condemnation of 
the enemies of Socialism, that the only real flag of the 
combatants of June was the Socialist flag; it is 
perfectly true that the explosion of the disease arose 
from the violence with which the enemies of the Revo- 
lution opposed the remedy ; it is perfectly true that the 
cry of the revolt was not " Vive " some pretender or 
other, but " Du Pain ou du Plomb ; " that the Bona- 
partists and Legitimists, who had crept behind the 
barricades, were obliged to disguise their objects : far 
from denying all these facts, they are the very heads 
of my accusation against the men who preferred facing 
the lead to effecting those reforms which would have 
given bread. Certain it is, however, that in the Fau- 
bourg St. Marcel, in the Faubourg Saint-Jaques, at 
Montmartre, at Belleville, there were found Bona- 
partists among the combatants; certain it is that they 
were found more especially at Gentilly, at Deux-Mou- 
lins, at the Barriere Fontainebleau : in short, in that 
district which was the scene of the murder of General 

A man who was principally inculpated, and most 
severely sentenced for his participation in the affair 
of General Brca, was a conductor of ponts et chaassees, 
by name Luc. 


The following was the deposition of the witness 
Pierre Menand, a corporal of the Garde Mobile : — 

" I went to Luc's lodgings ; I found there a musket 
and a bayonet ; I did not find him, but a letter ad- 
dressed by him to Napoleon, who was at AuteunY' 
What would the reactionist party have said if this 
letter had borne the address of Considerant, or Pierre 
Leroux, or Louis Blanc ? 

A few words are necessary to explain the motives 
which brought the provinces down upon Paris in 
June : — 

In June, 1848, the Departments were by no means 
so far advanced in political ideas as they afterwards 
became. The Royalists, who had retired from Paris 
in fear, avenged themselves for their own humiliation 
by calumniating the Revolution and its authors. The 
despatches and proclamations in which the Govern- 
ment, in June, represented France as being threatened 
with pillage and incendiarism, afforded an unexpected 
confirmation of the falsehoods of the reactionists. 
The first impulse everywhere was to arm and rush 
1 down upon the " brigands ; " and thousands of volun- 
teers answered to the appeal. They were led to believe 
that the Republic itself was in danger, and that they 
were summoned to the rescue. It was under that 
impression, in fact, that thousands of Republicans 
flocked to Paris, where their presence was announced 
by the reactionists as a solemn protest of the provinces 
against Socialism and the capital. 

The people who had thus come up from the pro- 
vinces naturally inquired who and what these enemies 


were, who had been so mercilessly hunted down and 
shot. They examined the smoking ruins : the only 
incendiarism was the firing of the guns and mortars of 
the party of order. On every deserted barricade they 
read the following brief code of the insurgents : — 


In vain the Patric, the Constitutionnel, and all 
the organs of the Police repeated their odious 
inventions of massacres, mutilations, and poisonings : 
the one great fact that remained, was the barbarous 
cruelty with which the prisoners were treated when 
the insurrection was suppressed. Two lamentable 
occurrences in the insurrection of June have served 
as an inexhaustible text to the declamations of the 
reactionist press. These two events are the death 
of the Archbishop of Paris, and the death of General j| 

The death of the Archbishop of Paris was a calamity 
that cannot be too bitterly deplored, but it was not the 
result of a crime. If the responsibility of that accident 
must fall on a party — which Heaven forbid ! it would 
not be on the insurgents, but on what was called the 
Party of Order. Let me call attention to the following j 
declaration of an eye-witness : — 

"I, the undersigned, Vicar-General of the Arch -I 
bishop of Paris, whom I had the honour to accom-J 
pany on that mission of peace and charity which he had| 
undertaken, attest, that, as far as it was possible tog 


judge in the midst of a great confusion, lie was not 
struck by those who defended the barricades. 

" Signed, Jaquemet,* 

" (Vicar-General.)" 

" mh June, 1848." 

As to the part which politics may have played in the 
assassination of General Brea, it is important to be 
precise before we listen to odious accusations. It was 
established on the trial that the general, on arriving at 
the Barriere Fontainebleau, found the insurgents infu- 
riated at the news of the savage executions at the 
Pantheon. Those who had introduced him in a spirit 
of conciliation, soon abandoned him in alarm at the 
menacing aspect of the mob. The chiefs of the 
National Guard had deserted their post. 

I have already adverted to the Bonapartist letter 
found in the lodgings of Luc, one of those implicated 
in General BreVs murder. Long before the events of 
June, Lahr, also mentioned above, openly boasted of 
his devotion to the cause of Louis Napoleon. He 
mentioned to his neighbours, that when he was a 
soldier in the artillery, and on guard at the fortress 
of Ham, M. Louis Napoleon had, on one occasion, 
given him a piece of twenty francs to buy pipes and 
tobacco, and that the " nephew of the Emperor " 
had generously declined to take back the change. 
During their detention in the forts, several of the 
prisoners accused of the murder of General Brea made 
themselves conspicuous by the exaltation of their 

* I have the original of this attestation in my possession. 



Bonapartist opinions. In truth, those opinions pre- 
vailed in the commune of Deux Moulins, as every 
election proved. Assuredly, if a political colour is to 
be given to that deplorable murder, and for my part I 
should be ashamed to do so ; it is not on the Socialists 
the responsibility must fall. 

It would require volumes to pass in review all the 
calumnies invented and published, with easy impu- 
dence, at a time when the democratic press was arbitra- 
rily suspended. Have we not heard of flags brought to 
the National Assembly on which it was pretended that 
these words were inscribed — " Mort aux Propriet aires!" 
Now it is known that these flags had been flying, 
since the revolt of April, at the windows of house- 
holders who had been generous enough to remit their 
rents; they were a complimentary present from the 
tenants, and bore this inscription — " Honneur aux 
proprietaires genereux. In the faubourgs, these flags 
were counted by hundreds. The conquerors tore them 
down as trophies; and some obscure fabricators of 
libels falsified the device they bore. 

As to the terrible stories about poisoned balls, 
poisoned lint, projectiles intended to produce severe 
wounds, &c, .... all these have been officially contra- 
dicted by the government itself in a "communique" 
to all the papers of Paris ; and also in the Gazette des 
Hopitaux, containing official hospital reports, the 
latter saying, amongst other refutations: "We think 
it is our duty to declare that in no one of the balls 
extracted, have we discovered any trace of poison, 
and that the wounds themselves presented no symptoms 

m. bastide's refutation of lord normanby. 453 

of having been aggravated by any poisonous matter. . . . 
It follows, moreover, from the analysis made by M. 
Pelouze, that in no case has any of the liquids sup- 
posed to be poisoned justified the suspicions respecting 
them." * 

I need not say that these disgusting fables have been 
entirely exploded in France. But as Lord Normanby 
wanted them for his romance, not content with re- 
viving, he has been pleased to discover for them 
a respectable authority ; and this he does with his 
usual infelicity. " I inquired," he says, " of M. 
Bastide, whether it was ascertained what amount of 
truth there was in the reports of cruelties said to 
have been committed by the insurgents. He replied 
that there had been no exaggeration on that point ; " 
and his Lordship then goes on with the minute 
details of the alleged barbarities, f 

Now, on reading this, M. Bastide wrote the following 
letter to the Times : 

" Sir, — Permit me to make use of your columns, 
in order to reply to a noble Lord who has been 
betrayed by his memory, into supposing he had ob- 
tained certain particulars from me, which have doubt- 
less reached him from some other quarter. I have 
at heart that it should not be supposed, especially by 
the English public, that I had the bad taste to tell 

* Gazette des Hopitaux, 14 Juillet, 1848. These official communi- 
cations render it unnecessary to adduce other testimonies, which exist 
■without number. 

t Vol. ii. p. 79. 


such absurd stories to its representative, which would 
have been a mystification unworthy of his position and 
mine. Everybody is, at this time of day, aware of 
how much they may depend upon these worn-out 
stories of poisoned balls, which, after any disturbance, 
is a matter of regular gossip. Of course, surgeons 
usually find pieces of linen and cloth in wounds. 
These bits that increase the danger, are torn off by 
the balls from the clothes of the persons wounded, 
and are not discharged from the musket. It is equally 
well known that, in the height of summer, dead bodies 
decompose rapidly, especially when death follows 
after a period of fatigue and feverish excitement. 
As far as I am aware, his Lordship is not a chemist; 
still, I should not have ventured to speak in his 
presence, without fearing he might think I was laugh- 
ing at him, of a pump casting sulphuric acid into 
the faces of assailants. Such a pump would be par- 
tially dissolved before it could be made to work. 
Moreover, it is necessary to imagine insurgents of 
a very simple nature, who could figure to them- 
selves persons so accommodating as to come within 
ten or twelve yards for the purpose of being pumped 
upon. It is certainly not to our Parisian insurgents 
that I would ascribe such a piece of folly. As to 
the lint said to be poisoned by some insurgent dis- 
guised as a sister of charitjr, or surgeon, it must be 
necessary, to pass off this fable on Lord Normanby, to 
conceal from him that all the wounded, whoever they 
were, were taken to the same wards, and received the 
same care, and, consequently, that the insurgent 


poisoner would have run the risk of applying the 
fatal substance to his comrade, possibly to himself. 
But I am ready to acknowledge that I might have 
made mention of balls tipped with copper points ; for 
though, if I did not see any of these balls in June, I 
did see some in February, 1848, found in the cartridges 
that belonged to some of the Municipal Guards of 
Louis Philippe, who were killed at the Chateau d'Eau 
of the Palais Royal. It is possible that the insurgents 
had some of these balls, which they had found upon 
the defenders of royalty. At all events, specimens 
may be seen at Devisme's, the gunmaker, who no 
more than the late Louis Philippe, bears the character 
of a ferocious man/-' * 

About 15,000 citizens were arrested after the events 
of June ; 4,348 were sentenced to transportation with- 
out trial, by a measure of general safety. For two 
years, they demanded to be tried; all they could get was 
commissioners sent out to confer capricious pardons, 
— the liberation of some of them being just as arbitrary 
as their arrest. With respect to one of the men whom 
these Commissioners of Clemency, as they styled them- 
selves, actually transported to Africa, it is remarkable 

* This letter, first published in the French paper VEstafette of the 15th 
of January, 1858, appeared in French a few days after in the Times. 

I may as well remark here, that M. de Lamartine and M. Bastide are 
the only Republicans who have found favour with Lord Normanby, being 
the only ones whom their official position brought in communication with 
him. I can assure his Lordship that, had he had a more extensive 
acquaintance with the members of that party, he would not have treated 
them as ill as he has done. 


that, among the papers forming part of the copy of the 
evidence of the prosecution, furnished to the prisoner, 
was found the following description : "Lagarde, delegate 
of the Luxembourg, a man of incontestable integrity, of the 
most peaceful disposition, well informed, generally liked, 
and, for this reason, very dangerous in the propagation 
of Socialist ideas ! " * 

* See a most touching letter from Lagarde himself, who had been 
president of the delegates of the Luxembourg, dated "Brest Roadsted 
aboard the La Guerriere hulk," which, addressed to the working-men 
of Paris, appeared, amongst other papers, in the Nouveau Monde, 
March 15th, 1850. 

It is hardly possible to imagine that such a man could have been con- 
demned to ten years hard labour, without trial, or that the commutation 
of his sentence consisted in sending him to a penal colony in Africa ! An 
incident so monstrous and so revolting to our common humanity, would 
be regarded in a play or a novel as an outrage on probability. But truth 
in these matters is often more strange than fiction. 




In the midst of so fearful a state of things, earnest 
men and true legislators would have directed their first 
endeavours towards healing the wounds of the country. 
The reactionists, on the contrary, found a cruel benefit 
in enlarging and envenoming these wounds. There 
were in the Assembly certain troublesome individuals 
whom they were impatient to crush, and with breathless 
haste, setting aside every scruple, they determined to 
take advantage of the favourable chances which the 
excitement of the moment offered to their iniquitous 
designs. Such was the origin of the famous Commis- 
sion of Inquiry, instituted by the Assembly to examine 
into the causes of the insurrection. It must be 
observed that it was resolved that the events of 
June should be brought into connexion with those 
of May, because the counter-revolutionists could not 
resign themselves to submit to the vote that sheltered 
me from their vengeance, and because they hoped to 
induce the Assembly, while under the double dominion 
of anger and of fear, to recall its previous judgment. 

Meanwhile, the reactionary press continued to perse- 
cute me with redoubled fury and injustice. The con- 


1 ten js 


tempt with which, the rage of these parasitical lampoons 
inspired me was so profound, that for a long time I 
allowed them to enjoy the benefit of my silence. But 
the Journal des Debats, which had maintained a certain 
degree of dignity and reserve in its opposition to the 
Provisional Government, having allowed itself tore-echo 
the falsehoods put forward by my enemies, I addressed 
to that paper, on the 17th July, 1848, a letter, to which 
I confidently refer all those who may desire to see 
from decisively illustrative quotations, how moderate 
and full of the spirit of conciliation were ray speeches 
at the Luxembourg. 

The Commission of Inquiry carried on its proceed- 
ings under the presidency of M. Odilon Barrot. Its 
reporter was one of those subordinate hangers-on of the 
party of the envious, whom you may at any time put 
forward without caring about compromising them. His 
name was Bauchard. 

If any one would know to what depths mediocrity 
can descend in the service of hatred, he need only read 
the report drawn up by this man. 

To involve me in the insurrection of June was im- 
possible, nor was it attempted. But, in order to reach 
me one way or other, the various stages of the Revo- 
lution, the acts of the Provisional Government, the 
invasion of the Assembly on the 15th of May, and the 
insurrection of June, were, though utterly unconnected 
facts, by a monstrous licence, treated as a single event. 

But even, with the advantage of this extraordinary 
expedient, there was no ground for framing any charge 
against me. For, whatever I might have done or said 


as a member of the Provisional Government, not only 
was I obnoxious to no censure, but, in common with 
my colleagues, I had been declared by a solemn decree 
of the National Assembly to have merited well of my 
country ! * Next, as to the invasion of the Assembly, 
the majority of this very body had decided that my 
conduct on the occasion was unimpeachable, f 

Now, to give an idea of the length to which political 
iniquity may go, in times of civil discord, I will briefly 
state the almost incredible artifices resorted to. 

There was a certain man in Paris, of the name of 
Watrin, who, whilst boasting that he was one of the 
National Guards who, on the 15th of May, forced 
their way into the Hotel de Ville, to arrest the persons 
supposed to be implicated in invading the Assembly, 
happened to let fall that he had seen me at the Hotel 
de Ville. { 

In this gossip, the Commission of Inquiry eagerly 
seized on what seemed to afford an opening for reviving 
a charge which had already been adjudicated and dis- 

The value of this man's testimony will be instantly 
appreciated by the simple statement of the evidence he 
gave, when called upon as a witness in a court of 

* See page 388. 

t See page 407. 

X It must be understood that, after the dissolution of the Assembly had 
been proclaimed by Huber on the 15th of May, numbers of persons went 
to the Hotel de Ville, overpowered the Guards, and entered the Hotel de 
Ville, where they took measures to form a new government. The National 
Guard being moved forward to the place, they were finally arrested. 


It was to this effect, that, being on duty as a Na- 
tional Guard at the Hotel de Ville, on the evening of 
the 15th of May, immediately after the invasion of the 
Assembly, and his attention being attracted to a win- 
dow from which persons were throwing papers, he went 
up to the room, but that, perceiving he was not followed 
by any of the National Guards, he contented himself 
with pulling the door open, crying, " Long live the 
National Assembly!" and then, slamming the door 
to, went back for assistance ; to which he added : 
" During the short instant that I cast my eyes upon 
the persons assembled there, there was one only I 
recognised, or, at least, I think I recognised, Louis 
Blanc. (Hereupon Albert, rising, said : I declare, 
upon my honour, that Louis Blanc was never in the 
Hotel de Ville on the 15th of May.) — He was one of 
those who were seated. It was the only face that 
struck me, and for this reason my eye rested upon him 
a moment." * 

Such was Watrin's evidence. His cross-examination 
was as follows : — 

Q. Did you know Louis Blanc before the 15th of 

Watrin. Not by sight ; but I had once seen him for 
a while at a little distance. 

Q. Are you sure you saw Louis Blanc at the Hotel 
de Ville? 

Watrin. I think I saw him. 

Q. How did you make your way into the room ? 

* See the report of the trial at Bourges, in the liepresentant du Pewple 
of the 15th of March, 1849. 


Watrin. I did not get into it. I half-opened the 

M. Barbes here interrupted the witness, observing, 
it was impossible he could have got so far, as the sentry 
at the door would have stopped him; and besides, 
even had he succeeded in opening that door, he could 
not have seen persons who were in a back room. 

Watrin then continued : " Since my first deposition, 
several attempts have been made to induce me to 
modify it, but uselessly. It is true that a person has 
informed me that there was an employe at the Hotel de 
Ville who much resembled Louis Blanc — (sensation). — 
As I could not see very distinctly, it is possible I was 
mistaken." * 

Such evidence must appear so extremely ridiculous to 
an Englishman, as the grounds on which a prosecution 
would principally rely, that I am almost ashamed to 
introduce it ; but I feel still more so at having to add 
that it was not only the principal, but absolutely the 
sole evidence adduced; and that, moreover, it was 
most positively and incontestably refuted by crowds of 
witnesses, of all ranks, classes, and opinions, such as 
MM. Lamartine, Barbes, Marrast, — the latter, one of 
my bitterest opponents at that period, — all of whom 
having been, for various reasons, on the spot, concurred 
in declaring that I was not there, and could not be 
there without their seeing me. f 

* See the report of the trial at Bourges, in the JReprcsentant du Peuple 
of the 15th of March, 1849. 

*f* See the declaration of M. Marrast in the Assembly, in the Moniteur of 
the 4th of June, 1848 ; also M. de Lamartine's evidence as a witness at 
Bourges, and that of M. Barbes, one of the defendants in that trial. 


The public were so scandalised and indignant at the 
use made by the Commission of Inquiry, of this gro- 
tesque and disgraceful testimony of Watrin, that men, 
entirely unknown to me, then in prison awaiting their 
trial, in connexion with the events of June, did not 
hesitate to aggravate their position by avowing their 
presence at the Hotel de Ville, on the 15th of May, in 
order to give the lie to this miserable fabrication, 
whilst others, in no way implicated or suspected, went 
so far as to denounce themselves as actors in the affair 
of May, by voluntarily coming forward as witnesses on 
behalf of an oppressed man ! * 

Having thus to make up for the insufficiency 
of acts, the Commission of Inquiry knew of nothing 
better than to try to adduce words against me ; 
and what, in this respect, M. Odilon Barrot, M. 
Bauchart, and their associates, contrived, is really past 

My speeches at the Luxembourg had been made 
as member of the Provisional Government ; all of them 
had been fully and literally published in the Moniteur .- 
they were known to all when the Assembly passed the 
celebrated decree : " The Provisional Government have 
merited well of their country." Will it be believed 
that, six months after the issuing of this decree, 
some of the men who passed it found matter of 

* The names of those, who so nobly sacrificed their personal safety to 
-.he love of truth and hatred of injustice, deserve being recorded; here 
they are : Pelletier de Lorges, and Thumery. See their letters quoted in 
yny speech to the Assembly on the 25th of August, 1848, Moniteur of 
the 26th. 


accusation against me, not in the whole of these 
speeches, but in seven or eight sentences, garbled and 
misquoted ? 

So I was retrospectively denied the liberty of speech, 
by the very men for whose benefit I had protected 
freedom, when member of the Government, at the 
peril of my life ! and the few words which I was 
accused of having let drop, while speaking extempore 
in the midst of the universal excitement, were not 
even reproduced fairly ! 

For the honour of human nature, I should have 
been glad not to touch upon so deplorable a subject ; 
but I cannot overlook the fact that it has supplied 
Lord Normanby with an opportunity of calumniating, 
in my person, the party to which I belong. 

Lord Normanby, on the authority of the Commission 
of Inquiry, gives eight paragraphs, which he calls 
" extracts from the unpublished speeches of Louis 
Blanc to the delegates of the Luxembourg, received 
from the official short-hand writer who has taken them 
down at the time." ;c 

I am afraid Lord Normanby would be very much at 
a loss to describe the unnamed short-hand writer, who 
is termed official, precisely when brought into play 
as giving unofficial information. Nor do I think his 
Lordship would find it easy to deduce the grounds on 
which rests either the veracity or the infallibihty of this 
mysterious personage, with whom I was never con- 
fronted. But let that pass. 

* " A Year of Revolution in Paris,'' vol. ii. p. 145. 


Of the eight paragraphs, with which Lord Normanby 
has thought proper to enrich his narrative, six, 
more or less garbled, form part of speeches pub- 
lished at full length in the Moniteur, and two are 
simply forged. 

Had Lord Normanby taken the slightest pains con- 
scientiously to discharge his self-imposed task, he would 
have seen, by glancing at the Moniteur, that the 
extracts he gives as unpublished, belong, although dis- 
torted, to speeches which any one may read in that 

For instance, any one may there read this phrase 
of mine, which I quote in French, to follow the ex- 
ample of Lord Normanby : 

" En depit de tout, l'egalite triomphera, non pas 
cette egalite etroite et sterile qui consiste dans Tabaisse- 
ment du niveau general, mais celle qui consiste, au 
contraire, dans son elevation progressive, indefinie ; 
car, suivant une belle parole de Saint-Martin, tous les 
hommes sont egaux, cela veut dire tous les hommes 
sont rois/'' 

This was said by me, to show that progress must 
consist, not in lowering those that are above, but in 
raising those that are below. It was absolutely the 
same thought which our national poet Bcranger had, 
before me, expressed in these lively terms : " L'egalite 
doit consister, non pas a raccourcir les habits, mais a 
allonger les vestes." 

Now, it is curious to see how, by the common trick 
of some words artfully modified or omitted, this sen- 
tence, directed against any blind and narrow feeling 


of envy on the part of the less fortunate classes 
of society, has been changed, in M. Bauchart's report 
first, and then in Lord Normanby's book, into the 
most fanciful and chimerical promise: — "Mes amis, 
sachez-le, vous serez non seulement puissants, non 
seulement riches, vous serez rois. Car tous les hommes 
sont egaux, tous les hommes sont rois." * 
Need I point out the difference ? 
Again, on the 29th of April, I had said, according 
to the documentary evidence : — 

" Ce que nous voulons, c'est la liberte par la paix, 
c'est la victoire par le developpement de la raison ; 
c'est le triomphe par la moderation, par Fessor 
de ^intelligence, c'est la liberte par Fordre et par 
Famour. Et quand je vous dis ceci, ne croyez pas que 
! je cede a des sentiments pusillauimes. Si jamais la 
| liberte etait menacee, vous pouvez en etre surs, et 
J j'en prends Fengagement devant vous, personne d'entre 
vous ne pourrait dire qu'il ne m'a pas vu au poste du 
peril. Seulement, desirons ce qu'il y a de mieux, ce 
qu'il y a de plus humain ; car Fhumanite marche, non 
par vers la guerre mais vers la paix, non par vers 
Fanarchie mais vers Fordre, non par vers la haine 
mais vers la fraternite. Ainsi, sentiments de modera- 
tion temperes par une vive resolution de vigilance, 
sentiments d'ordre, temperes par la volonte de rester 
freres, et, s'il le fallait, douloureuse necessite, necessite 
bien comprise de devenir soldats. Maintenant, je 
ne vous dirai pas que la Revolution, si violemment 

* "A Year of Revolution in Taris," vol. ii. p. 116. 

H H 


attaquee depuis quelques jours par les reactionnaires 
est en peril. Je ne vous dirai pas qu'il faudra la 
defendre violemment. En verite, je n'en crois rien. 
Pai une confiance parfaite, inebranlable dans la 
victoire de Fidee, de la raison, de la justice. Que 
l'intelligence de tous se forme par le developpement de 
la liberte de la presse, de la liberte de la tribune, de la 
liberte de Tindustrie ; et, j'en suis convaincu, la Re- 
volution triomphera."" 

That, in this passage, which is so warm an appeal 
to moderation and concord, a motive should have been 
found for accusing me of an appeal to violence, seems 
hardly conceivable. Yet, such has been the case, and 
the process may be studied in Lord Normanby's book : 
nothing more was required, to produce the desired 
impression, than to omit all that precedes, and all that 
follows this phrase, special care having been taken to 
underline the last words : — 

" Sentiments de moderation tempere's par une reso- 
lution de vigilance; sentiments d'ordre, mais temperes 
par la volonte de rester freres, et, s'il le fallait, dou- 
loureuse necessite, necessite Men comprise de se faire 
soldatsP * 

For this perversion of my language, I cannot help 
holding Lord Normanby personally responsible; as 
what I now do here, I did at the time, in a speech 
made in the Assembly for the express purpose oi 
exposing these disgraceful manoeuvres — a speech which 
his lordship tells us he heard himself, f He was 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. ii. p. 14G. 
t Ibid., p. 170, 


therefore, bound on every principle of honour and 
equity, to state my reply, using, of course, his right 
to show its inefficiency, if he could. 

As to my having used any phrase intended to pave 
the way for any future attack on the Assembly, or 
uttered any denunciation of the existing social system 
by so violent an epithet as infamous, or committed 
myself to such an empty unexplained form of expres- 
sion: — "Vive la Republique qui fera qu'il n'y aura plus 
de riches et de pauvres •/' all this is a fabrication of the 
parties concerned, and I defy contradiction when I 
say, that all this is utterly inconsistent with anything 
I. have at any time said or written. What I did say, 
and what I do say, in common with the most accre- 
dited thinkers, is, that the present order of society is 
unjust; that the true source of improvement is to 
consider poverty as an evil susceptible of being gra- 
dually suppressed — which constitutes the very essence 
of the act of civilisation. And true it is, that to con- 
tribute to it with all the energy I am capable of, is an 
engagement which I made with myself in early life, 
and to which I am proud enough to think I shall be 
faithful to my latest hour. 

I have now a little matter to settle with Lord 
Normanby exclusively. After unfairly quoting the per- 
versions of my language, without indicating the com- 
plete answer I gave them, — seized I suppose by a noble 
emulation, — he does a little business in this way on 
his own account, by perverting even the perversions. 
Having, at page 146, ascribed to me, on the authority 
! of such a man as M. Bauchart, the phrase, " Le 


systeme sur lequel est basee la societe est un systeme 
infarae," he, in the very next page, proceeds coolly to 
drop into the same phrase the word "property " which 
enables him to say that it was property I had de- 
nounced as a " systeme infdme" And going on from 
bad to worse, he takes advantage of his own inter- 
polation for charging me with the most ludicrous act 
of treachery, indeed. Here it is : — 

On the 13th of July, M. Proudhon having made in 
the Assembly a motion inconsistent with my views, 
supported by a speech in which every one and every 
thing was attacked, I voted against it, with all the 
members of the Assembly, except one. 

Whereupon, Lord Normanby bursts out, as follows :- 

" Verily, Citizen Proudhon might well say, ' Call 
you this backing your friends ? ' Doubly deep must 
have been his gratitude for the solitary vote of the 
less notorious but more faithful Greppo. Changed 
as the season was the Louis Blanc of August with the 
Louis Blanc of February ! Was this the result of 
some late repentance, or merely of recent panic at the 
consequences of imminent disclosures in the forth- 
coming report ? " * 

How fortunate ! I have just at hand the means 
of gratifying his lordship's curiosity. The explanation 
of my motives for opposing M. Proudhon, has been 
thus given by M. Proudhon himself: — 

"Louis Blanc's vote was the most conscientious 
vote in the Assembly. There is an abyss between 

* "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol, ii. p. 147. 


us. . . . Socialism, such as I have comprehended it, 
is just the reverse of the socialism of Louis Blanc. 
This opposition is a fatal one, and if I particularly 
dwell upon it, it is by no means for the pleasure of 
merely contradicting the head of a different school, 
but because it appears to me necessary to the educa- 
tion of the people." * 

What will any man of sense and honesty think 
of Lord Normanby after this? I should very much 
like him to explain how he could live so long in Paris 
without knowing that Proudhon and myself were the 
most decided adversaries in opinion ! Can there beany- 
thing more ridiculous than to talk of my deserting one 
with whom I was never allied, one who has always been 
my opponent, and who so continues to the present time ? 
And is it not too bad, that a man of Lord Normanby's 
position should endeavour to decry the character of 
another, by tacking a blunder to an interpolation ? f 

* Confessions oVim Revolutionnaire, pour Servir a VHistoire de la 
Revolution de Fevrier, par P. J. Proudhon, p. 54. 

f Lord Normanby (vol. ii. p. 180) quotes at length a deposition of M. 
Trelat, which he acknowledges "received but little ci*edence" from the 
Assembly, but which, nevertheless, for the purpose of attacking me, I 
suppose, he introduces, referring to I know not what proposition alleged 
to have been made by me to M. fimile Thomas, and by him reported to 
If. Trelat. Had M. fimile Thomas said anything of the kind, it would 
have been a marvellous piece of impudence, as I never cast eyes upon 
him ; but, when questioned on the subject by the Commission Inquiry, 
his answer was : " M. Trelat' s statement is a falsehood ; I never saw M. 
Louis Blanc in my life." I quoted this contradiction in the very words 
of M. Emile Thomas, in my speech in the Assembly on the 25th of August, 
1848 (see the Moniteur of the 26th), which Lord Normanby, who was 
present, must have heard. Why has he then suppressed all mention of 
this, leaving the public to suppose that there was really something in 


Three representatives of the people, viz., M. Ledru 
Rollin, M. Caussidiere, and myself, were calumniated in 
the report of the Commission of Inquiry. The first- 
named of these gentlemen was allowed to defend him- 
self on the very day of the attack; Caussidiere and myself 
were debarred from this right, under the transparent 
pretext that our defeuce would come in better after the 
publication of the documents ; and we were thus forced 
to wait in silence until the false representations in the 
report had, in the absence of all contradictory discussion, 
produced the desired effect on public opinion ! 

In consequence, we remained for several days ex- 
posed to all sorts of iniquitous attacks. The report, the 
product of vulgar spite and of impotent rage, in reality 
condemned its authors alone, and such was indeed the 
unanimous opinion of every upright man. But minds 
previously tainted, received with avidity the poison 
which had been prepared for them. In truth, there 
was no lack of commentaries to the text. Reproduced, 
expanded, enriched with new fallacies, published by 
various journals, copies of which were struck off to the 
number of five or six hundred thousand, the odious 
libel spread through the whole of Europe an accusation 
which was swelled and prolonged by every echo along 
the road ; and when, indignant at this slow moral 
death, we asked to be allowed to speak ; when we de- 
manded the right in our turn to accuse our accusers, 
the answer given was, " the copies of the documentary 

M. Trelat's deposition, and, consequently, that I was in some way or other 
in communication with the Director of the National Workshops ? Is this 
fair play ? 


evidence, which are to be published, are not yet ready," 
or, " the papers are not yet printed/' And during all 
this while, with the report of the Commission of 
Inquiry in their hands, they exerted themselves with 
indefatigable zeal, to create public opinion ! 

And notwithstanding all this, truth, on this occasion, 
supported by evidence, would no doubt have carried 
the victory, had there not, in the bosom of the Assembly, 
been formed a league against us, the origin and the 
character of which it is necessary that I should here 

When voting the publication of the report, the 
Assembly resolved, no doubt inadvertently, that all 
the documentary evidence should likewise be published. 
But, when this vote was to be carried out, it was found 
fraught with great peril. 

Having never calculated that the minutes of the pro- 
ceedings of the Commission of Inquiry were to be 
published, certain important personages had ventured 
to denounce each other ; there had been instances of 
terrible indiscretions, of fatal confidences. What would 
therefore be the result, if the veil were to be lifted ? 

Suits for libel, duels, lifelong animosities, enormous 
public scandals, civil war within the Assembly, such 
were the results about to be produced by the publica- 
tion of the entire minutes. General terror prevailed. 

Now, among those who had most reasons to fear a 
disclosure of this kind, was General Cavaignac himself. 
His dictatorship, established in the month of June, on 
the ruins of the Executive Commission, had given rise 
to strange whisperings in the hall of the Pas-Perdus, 


and these whisperings had been transformed into accu- 
satory evidence, before the Commission of Inquiry. 
He was represented as having allowed barricades to be 
constructed, which he might have prevented ; as having 
managed to acquire the sacrilegious honour of drowning 
in blood an insurrection which might have been averted ; 
as closing his ears to the orders of the Executive Com- 
mission; as publicly displaying a contempt for the 
armed intervention of the National Guard, which was 
meant to convey a compliment to the regular troops. 
In a word, he was represented as having conducted 
himself in such a manner, in the midst of distracted 
Paris, as to render the overthrow of the Executive Com- 
mission inevitable, and his own dictatorship necessary. 
These imputations, against which he was protected 
subsequently, in a famous sitting, partly because of 
their very enormity, partly because the reactionist 
party still needed him; — these imputations were put 
forward by witnesses bearing an official character, by 
men whose colleague in the Government he had been, 
and whose colleague he was in the Assembly. There- 
fore, whether or not the general would have been able 
to justify himself, his position as dictator would at all 
events have suffered considerably, had he been placed 
under the necessity of defending himself against such 
accusations. This was perfectly understood by his 
party, and the National made prodigious efforts to 
prevent the publication of the whole of the minutes. 
But the vote of the Assembly could not be got rid of. 
There it was, imperious, decisive. There was therefore 
nothing left for General Cavaignac's party, if it would 


avoid a debate, the result of which might be fatal, but 
to draw near to the party represented by the Com- 
mission of Inquiry. 

On the other hand, the reactionists who had insti- 
tuted the Inquiry had a manifest interest in so momen- 
tous an alliance. If left to depend on their own strength 
alone, they could not command a majority in the 
Assembly, and they might run the risk of succumbing 
to an order of the day and of being removed from the 
category of judges to that of calumniators. Besides, 
their plan was to make use of the Republicans of the 
National against the Socialists, i.e. of General Cavaig- 
nac against M. Caussidiere and myself, reserving to 
themselves the power of destroying the tool after having 
made use of it. 

Out of this community of interests and perils arose 
the iniquitous pact of which M. Caussidiere and I became 
the victims. 

As for M. Ledru Eollin, though accused together 
with us, he had this advantage over us, that having been 
a member of the Executive Commission, he was one of 
those whom General Cavaignac had reason to fear as 
accuser. It was therefore determined that he should 
be used gently, and hence that celebrated shake of the 
hand given to him by the general in the midst of the 
Assembly, when, for the first time, Ledru Rollin was 
called upon to defend himself. 

It will long be remembered that, on the 25th of 
April, 1849, M. Baroche ventured to fix the names of 
the contumaces of the 16th of May on gibbets, which 
the people, in an outburst of admirable and poetic 



indignation, hastened to cover with flowers. The n£xt 
day the following paragraph appeared in the journal 
La Presse : — 

" In case General Cavaignac passed yesterday across 
the square of the Palais de Justice, at the moment 
when the sentence which condemns M. Louis Blanc 
was affixed to a gibbet, General Cavaignac must have 
felt a pang; for the person who writes these lines, 
(M. Emile de Girardin) heard General Cavaignac say on 
the 26th of August : — ' As for Louis Blanc, my profound 
conviction is, that he is not more guilty than I am/ 
How is it to be explained, that General Cavaignac, 
entertaining such a conviction a few hours previously, 
subsequently ascended the tribune and there uttered 
language of quite a different import ? " 

And what answer did General Cavaignac give to this 
definite assertion of M. Emile de Girardin, to this 
pressing appeal ? He remained silent. 

He was not ignorant, however, that I had been the 
companion in arms, the fellow-labourer and the friend 
of his brother ; that I had ever evinced towards his 
mother quite a filial affection ; and that, when called to 
his eternal home, Godefroy Cavaignac had bequeathed to 
me. his most cherished thoughts. May it not be that to 
the ardour of an ambition full of anxiety, that to the 
fear of Jjeing a victim in case he did not become 
sacrificer, was added the spur of some secret resent- 
ment ? 

At the period of the outbreak of the February revo- 
lution, General Cavaignac had long been serving in 
Algeria. I had, therefore, seen him only two or three 


tiroes during flying visits to Paris. But lie was known 
to be a Republican ; and, besides, I loved him for 
his brother's sake. It was therefore with heartfelt 
emotion, that while forming part of the Provisional 
Government, I joined my influence to that of my two 
colleagues, Ledru Rollin and Flocon, to raise M. Eugene 
Cavaignac to the rank of Lieutenant- General, and to 
elevate his prospects, so suddenly associated with the 
destinies of the Republic. A Minister of War was to be 
appointed : the general was proposed, accepted, and 
informed of the fact by the Provisional Government. 
Great w 7 as our surprise on the receipt of his answer. 
It was a notification of his refusal in terms of ill-con- 
cealed arrogance. He seemed to upbraid us with not 
having assigned a sufficiently exalted place to the 
troops in our regard and in our arrangements ; the 
citizen disappeared behind the soldier. The same 
exclamation, I remember, burst from the lips of all 
present, an exclamation of astonishment, or rather of 
indignation. What was the meaning of the assumption 
of these airs of an independent proconsul? Whence 
came this audacity of a soldier of fortune towards 
men, who, after all, had but to . give a sign, and the 
sword would have been broken in his hand? As for 
the arm} 7 -, far from having held it in little esteem, 
we had reinstated it in the position whence all its 
heroic greatness had been derived, by indicating to it, 
that thenceforward it should know no other enemies 
than the enemies of France, and by endeavouring to 
avert from it the possibility of being called upon to 
wage a terrible and sacrilegious warfare in the streets 


and lanes of our cities. It was determined that the 
Provisional Government should express its displeasure 
to General Cavaignac in an authoritative letter to be 
drawn up by three of its members, viz., Francois Arago, 
Armand Marrast, and myself. 

On the day after this resolution had been come to, I 
went to the Hotel of the Ministry of the Marine, to 
meet M. Francois Arago and M. Marrast. I had 
already prepared a rough draught of the letter, which 
I had brought with me, and which I read to my col- 
leagues. In a measured but haughty tone, it gave 
faithful expression to the sentiments of the Council. 
The last sentence, the severity of which had been pro- 
voked, was as follows : — 

" The moment is perhaps not far distant when we 
may be forced into a war with Europe: remain in 
Africa, general, the Government retains you there in 
the service of the Republic" 

My draft was approved of by MM. Francois Arago 
and Marrast, except that the latter did not think it 
bitter enough, and in consequence added some words in 
the margin calculated to render it still more galling to 
the general. However, these additions of M. Marrast 
were rejected by the Council, being found to go too far. 
Thus the letter was sent such as it had been drawn up 
by me, and was signed by M. Arago in his quality of 
Minister of War, ad interim. 

Were the details which I have just narrated, confided 
to General Cavaignac at a subsequent period ? I know 
not ; but perhaps in this case there might have been 
one more inducement to the act of injustice which, I am 


grieved to say, will always remain a blot on the memory 
of Eugene Cavaignac. 

The ruin of M. Caussidiere and myself having been 
determined, it will easily be understood why it was 
resolved to bring the matter to a close at one sitting, 
even though it be prolonged so as to comprise two 
sunrises. Nothing certainly could have »been more 
unjust, for it was tantamount to depriving us in 
advance of any chance of a possible change in public 
opinion as regarded us ; it was tantamount to refusing 
to allow one hour for the working of the moral effect 
that might be produced by the defence, while a whole 
week had been allowed for the working of the moral 
effect produced by the accusation. 

The subject was brought before the Assembly on 
the 25th of August. My first and own impression was 
not to condescend to defend myself, but to challenge 
my enemies to do their worst ; to answer attacks by 
attacks, and to show — what was the truth — that I had 
not come there to clear myself of a crime, but to expiate 
a defeat. I am now convinced that this impression 
was the right one. Unfortunately, my best friends in 
the Assembly, purposely misled by false reports as to 
the feeling of the majority present, pressed me with 
the most earnest entreaties, not to throw away the 
certainty of an important victory for the gratification 
of my own appreciation of what was due to my cause 
and to myself. 

I therefore consented to accept the position of a 
defendant, and accordingly took the trouble of tearing 
to pieces the flimsy report of M, Bauchart, in a long 


speech, which, as may be seen by the Moniteur'' s report 
of the debate, made a great impression on the minority, 
although doubtless " ineffective," as Lord Normanby 
says it was, the majority being determined to be diverted 
by no argument from their foregone conclusions.* 

I seized the opportunity to assert once more, and 
justify my doctrines. I showed that all my speeches 
at the Luxembourg had been published at length in 
the Moniteur, and that no other than these had been 
nttered by me as a member of the Government. I 
showed, moreover, that the reports in the Moniteur 
were literally exact, with the exception of such few 
verbal alterations as it is the practice, in France, for 
every speaker to make before his speech is published, 
when it is extempore. And this care about words was 
all the more imperative, as I was speaking in time of 
great excitement, on the spur of the moment, and under 
a frightful pressure. But, far from making changes 
"which certainly completely altered the sense," j- as 
Lord Normanby, who was present, is bold enough to 
assert, I proved, beyond dispute, just the reverse; 
and I earnestly entreat any one who may be interested 
in the matter to consult the Moniteur of the 25th of 
August, 1848, where he will find the fullest con- 
firm ation of what I sa3 r . 

The great change alleged against me by the Com- 

* At the moment something I said was warmly received on the left of 
the house ; I remember one of the right rubbing his hands, and saying in 
an under tone, "Oh ! gabble on as much as you like. It's all up with 
you." The expression was considerably coarser in French ; but, its 
coarseness apart, very well expressed the parti pris of the majority. 

t "A Year of Revolution in Paris," vol. ii. p. 179. 


mission of Inquiry was this. I had said at the Luxem- 
bourg, that in my earliest youth I had taken the 
serment d'Annibal against the existing unjust order of 
things. Feeling that the expression used in the heat 
of the moment might be misconstrued, I substituted 
for it the equivalent expression, " J'ai pris devant 
Dieu et devant ma conscience ^engagement," &c. 
I appeal to any honest man whether this be " cer- 
tainly completely altering the sense ? " Moreover, 
how inconceivable that an act of discretion should have 
been changed into a motive for accusation ! 

So much for this part of the charge. As to my 
presence at the Hotel de Ville in the evening of the 
15th of May, every one knew perfectly well the utter 
absurdity of the supposition ; nevertheless, I took the 
unnecessary trouble of rebutting it in the way with 
which the reader is already acquainted. 

When I finished my speech, which had been inter- 
rupted by an hour's adjournment for dinner, the clock 
struck eleven. Sinister was the aspect of the immense 
hall, dimly lit up. Motionless, silent, full of self- 
controlled hatred, the proscribers appeared like phan- 
toms. In the galleries, a sombre curiosity was visible 
on every face, mingled with pallor caused by fatigue. 
Had the executioner been near, nothing would have 
been wanting to make that scene equal to certain other 
scenes, at the mere remembrance of which, after half a 
century, men still shudder. 

In his turn, M. Caussidiere began to speak, opposing 
to the accusation brought against him, a mass of 
striking proofs, and, from time to time, breaking out 


into happy and energetic sallies. Silence continued, 
menacing, implacable. 

On a sudden, the President rises, and submits to the 
Assembly the demand for leave to prosecute M. Caus- 
sidiere and myself — a demand which, it will be remem- 
bered, this same Assembly, as far as I was concerned, 
had already rejected by a solemn vote. In vain did 
M. Laurent (de I/Ardeche) raise a protest against the 
attempt to mask a coup d'etat in the guise of a judicial 
indictment ; in vain did M. Theodore Bac display on 
my behalf the power of the most touching and high 
eloquence; in vain was the cause of M. Caussidiere 
warmly advocated by M. Flocon — the votes had been 
counted beforehand. The very men to whom we had 
held out a helping hand when they lay prostrate at 
our feet, now felt strong enough, and were determined 
to take vengeance upon us, for the protection we had 
bestowed upon them. 

But, in reference to me, the decision to be taken 
was of a very serious character, as the Assembly could 
not condemn me, without renewing a question already 
deliberately settled by themselves ; without declaring 
me guilty, on new evidence, of the same offence of 
which they had previously declared me innocent — an 
unexampled instance of barefaced injustice. Even 
from this did they not shrink. 

Must I say that the demand for leave to prosecute 
me was supported by General Eugene Cavaignac ? I 
did not hear him ; I would not listen to him. Whilst 
he was speaking, all my thoughts were directed to 
Godefroy Cavaignac, to whom, when in exile, I had 


rendered such services as cannot possibly fade from 
a good man's memory — Godefroy Cavaignac, the 
dearest, the most lamented of my friends, who, breath- 
ing his last in my arms, whispered : " You have been 
a second brother to me." 

The result was predetermined. The arguments used 
by ourselves and our supporters to show that there 
were no grounds for leave to prosecute us, were not 
met or even considered by any one member of the 
Assembly. The Procureur- General, M. Corne, in- 
sisted upon the prosecution, and General Cavaignac 
supported it; but both these gentlemen contented 
themselves with stating in a general way that leave 
ought to be granted. Voting then amounted to a 
mere formality. Ostracism was revived. 

During these proceedings, numbers of workmen 
were thronging the Rue de Lille, awaiting the result 
with great anxiety ; and, although the means of popu- 
lar resistance had been completely crushed in June, 
yet the bearing of the people, in reference to the 
prosecution, was of a nature to create considerable 

When the decision of the Assembly was announced, 
my brother and my friends entreated me to leave 
Paris, to which I, at first, demurred, from a feeling 
of indignant pride. On its being urged that my being 
arrested might give rise to a dangerous excitement 
amongst the workmen, my own excitement prevented 
me, for a moment, from acknowledging to myself the 
full force of the objection. But immediately sub- 
duing this involuntary movement of anger, I began 


to perceive that it was my duty to avoid consequences 
which might injure others as much as myself. At this 
instant, a representative belonging to the opposite 
side, a most noble-minded man, M. d'Aragon, came 
up to me, and, in a tone of voice which I shall never 
forget, said : " You do not know me, nor do my 
opinions agree with yours ,• but I esteem and love you. 
If you think me worthy of your confidence, my 
carriage is at the door. Let us not lose a moment." 
This was decisive. Unwilling to seem by any show 
of hesitation to slight so kind an offer, I made up my 
mind, and followed him. It was daylight when I went 
out of the Assembly. At M. d'Aragon's house, ex- 
hausted as I was, I threw myself on a bed without 
undressing, and fell fast asleep. Two hours after, I 
was awakened by my host, who had, with the most 
delicate foresight and generosity, made the necessary 
arrangements for my journey.* I got into a cab, 
accompanied by two friends and reached the railway, 
leaving behind me a letter for publication, in which 
I engaged to return to Paris, and to surrender myself 
for trial by jury, the moment I was called upon to 
do so. 

I did not take any precaution to avoid being re- 
cognised, and would not have taken any, even had I 
been sure it was the intention of the Government to 

* On my getting into the carriage, this excellent man put a pocket- 
book in my hands containing bank-notes, saying, • ' You will want some- 
thing for your journey, lleturn it when convenient to you." 

Alas ! hardly had I reached London when I heard of his death, and this 
sad intelligence clouded the first days of my life as an exile, and caused me 
a bitter feeling of loneliness and sorrow- 


stop me ; but it is obvious, from what precedes, that 
the Government had nothing better to do than let me 
go quietly.* 

When in London, I was impatiently waiting for the 
payment of a debt due to me, the summons to return 
to Paris, to be tried by a jury of my countrymen. 
What were my astonishment and indignation, at hear- 
ing that, by an ex post facto law, there had been 
instituted a new and special court, before which I was 
summoned to appear, and where I was not to have the 
protection of a jury. 

In 1818, these species of "Tribunaux d'exception," 
were thus described in a work entitled, La Justice 
Criminelle en France : — 

* As a proof how easily I might have been arrested, if such had been 
the wish of the Government, and also to show on what depend the likes 
and dislikes entertained towards public men, I will mention the following 
anecdote : — 

On getting into the railway carriage, I found myself amongst several 
persons who, not knowing me, were conversing about the event of the day. 
One of these, a lady with a remarkably gentle expression of face, having 
learned, in answer to an inquiry what had been done in the Assembly, that 
leave to prosecute me had been granted, gave vent to her feeling of satis- 
faction with an emphasis and bitterness singularly at variance with the 
mildness of her look. Although deeply wounded, I said not a word. On 
arriving at the next station, the rumour of my being in the train having 
got abroad, there was a rush of people to the carriage window, some 
scowling at me, others warmly giving me their hands. I was now known 
to my companions, and when the train moved on again, there was a deep 
unbroken silence, whilst it was visible from the lady's face how much she 
regretted the unintentional wound she had inflicted upon a fallen man. 
At another station, she alighted with her husband, evidently unwilling to 
go without speaking to me. She lingered a moment at the carriage door ; 
and as the train was about to start, she stepped quickly forward, and, 
stretching out her hand to me with an expression full of feeling, she said : 
" May you be happy !" 

i i 2 


" Under whatever form they appear, whatever name 
you may give them, on whatever pretext you in- 
stitute them, they must be looked upon as courts 
of blood. Their only law is the accomplishment of 
the object for which they have been instituted. Expect 
from them neither pity, humanity, nor regard for 
justice. Do not even put trust in the previous cha- 
racter, good as it may have been, of the men who 
compose them. For, any man base enough to place 
himself in the position of punishing actions that are 
crimes only because they displease a despot or a 
faction, sacrifices his honour, and gives himself up, 
bound hand and foot, to injustice." 

With such words before him, who will possibly 
believe that the man who thus poured his indignation 
upon high courts, was M. Berenger, the very man who 
presided over the high court newly instituted ? 

Nor was this all. It was at Paris that the acts for 
which I was so iniquitously rendered answerable, had 
occurred; but as innumerable witnesses were there 
to be found, who could place the truth beyond the 
reach of a doubt, it was at Bourges we were cited to 
appear, in order that the truth should fall, unassisted 
and almost unheard. 

This being the case, I wrote from London * that, 
while still ready to redeem my promise to be tried by 
a fair jury and a lawful court, I utterly refused to 
appear before a tribunal created three months after 
the alleged offence, created too for the special purpose 

* This my letter, written on the 3rd of March, 1849, will be fonnd in 
the French papers of the Cth or the 7th. 


of substituting vengeance for justice, and placed pre- 
cisely where that purpose could be best secured. 

Such are the grounds on which I was expelled my 
country, and such the grounds on which I am here 
an exile in London ! 




Louis Bonaparte is on a throne ; and I am in exile. 

To me he was, to a great extent, indebted, when 
banished, for his return to France ; and to him is 
ascribable that state of things which keeps me from my 

After his attempt on Boulogne, in August 1840, I 
was the only man who dared raise a protest against, his 
being tried by an unlawful jurisdiction; and he, once 
become the President of the Republic, suffered a most 
iniquitous accusation to be brought against me, not 
before a jury, but before a sham tribunal. 

Whilst lingering at Ham, a poor forlorn prisoner, he 
entreated me, in a pressing letter, to come and spend 
a few days with him in his prison, which I did ; and 
when afterwards the vicissitudes of fortune, coupled 
with the baseness of men, made him an emperor and 
myself an exile, my utter spoliation was consummated 
by his own official servants, who were not ashamed to 
deprive me of a slender sum of about six hundred 
pounds, which I had earned by many years of literary 
labour, and which, invested in the public funds, was all 
my substance. 


Could an honest man repent of anything done in 
strict obedience to the call of conscience, how bitter 
would be to my heart the remembrance of the promi- 
nent share I took, on the 13th of June, 1848, in the 
decision by which the National Assembly cancelled the 
proscription of Louis Bonaparte ! 

But I have no claim to his gratitude on that score, 
as my conduct was free from all personal considera- 
tions. I did what I thought to be just. 

"It is understood," says Lord Normanby, writing 
in June, 1848, "that all among the lower classes whom 
Louis Blanc can influence are in favour of the Bona- 
parte movement" * 

The sense of this phrase is rather involved. If 
meant to convey some vague idea that I was foremost 
in supporting the views of a pretender, the hint would 
be worse than an error. 

The best possible reply I can make to an insinuation 
of that sort, is the faithful account of all the facts 
relating to my personal intercourse with Louis Bona- 
parte, whose present position imparts a particular 
degree of importance to any such records. 

Who does not remember that, after his unsuccessful 
attempt on Boulogne, Louis Bonaparte was made the 
laughing-stock of Europe ? Strange as the fact may 
seem now, his failure was hailed all over France with a 
burst of invective, and attended with marks of uni- 
versal disgust. There never was, perhaps, such out- 
rageous abuse. His name was by no means a shield 

* Vol. i. p. 456. 


against the darts flung at him from every corner. By 
his very friends he was forsaken. A paper started at his 
cost, under the title of " Le Capitole," for the express 
purpose of advocating his pretensions, joined in the 
general onset. The conspirator of Strasburg had been 
pardoned; if Louis Philippe, a very humane prince, 
had ordered the conspirator of Boulogne to be shot 
without any further formality, to no one would the 
punishment have appeared too harsh. 

I was, at that period, the editor of a democratic 
magazine, entitled " Revue du Progres" the contributors 
of which were the most eminent writers of the Repub- 
lican party, namely, MM. Arago, Michel (de Bouges), 
De Latouche, Marrast, Godefroy Cavaignac, Lamen- 
nais; and in that magazine I had reviewed, just one 
year before, Louis Bonaparte's book, " Les Idees 
Najjoleonniennes" As regards the claims laid by the 
nephew to the imperial succession of the uncle, this 
article of mine was a very severe one. It ended with 
the following words : — 

" . . . . Some will tell you, sir, "The Empire must 
be restored/ But it is because the mission of Napo- 
leon was entirely exhausted that he was left to die 
upon a solitary rock, in the midst of the ocean. Is 
it the reign of your uncle, together with war, that 
you mean to revive? For that, we need another 
Europe and a demigod. Is it the reign of your 
uncle without war? It would be despotism without 
glory; mock lords covered with embroidery, without 
soldiers covered with scars ; courtiers over our heads, 
without the world at our feet; it would be a great 


name without a great man, the Empire without the 

This publication made a very strong impression in 

The next day, at ten o'clock in the evening, as I was 
returning home, an unknown man came behind me, 
and, quite unexpectedly, gave me a violent blow with a 
stick upon the right eye. I fell down covered with 
blood. Some passers-by took me up and carried me 
to an apothecary's shop in the Hue de la Paix, where 
I remained senseless for about an hour. A physician 
was called in haste, and, at the first glance, declared 
that there was no ground of hope. The fact is, that I 
recovered only after a month of cruel sufferings. 
Although the street was full of people when the blow 
was levelled at me, my assailant had succeeded in 
making his escape. The researches of the police were 
all in vain. The only thing they could ascertain by 
questioning the neighbours, was that the assailant, 
who looked a gentleman in disguise, had been noticed 
standing at my door a long while. Heaven forbid that 
I should cast upon a whole party the crime of one 
man ! But I have a right to say that an opinion pre- 
vailed at the time, and found its way into most of the 
newspapers, that this cowardly attempt at assassination 
was the reply of a fanatical Bonapartist to my review 
of the " Idees Napoleonniennes." 

Whether Lord Normanby will find in this record a 
proof of my adherence to the " Bonaparte movement/' I 
know not. At any rate, such had been my reward, 
when in August 1840, the conspiracy of Boulogne was 


baffled, and Louis Bonaparte arrested. As much as 
any man in the world, I condemned his schemes. 
Still, I felt indignant at recognising among those who 
railed at him most furiously, the vilest worshippers of 
his uncle. I remembered that Malet, when asked by 
his judges : " Et vos complices ? " answered admirably ; 
" Vous, si j 'avals reussi" I had no doubt that, if ever 
this same Louis Bonaparte happened to get the mastery, 
many of such as were inveighing against him with so 
much asperity would be seen crawling at his feet. 
How true the foreboding, alas ! Moreover, it is my 
profound conviction that in no case whatever ought the 
usual rules of justice to be disregarded. I did not 
hesitate to develope these considerations in an article 
which appeared in the " Revue du Progres" on the first 
of September, 1840. It was like a discordant note in 
a concert of opprobrious language, and could not fail, 
on that account, to attract the attention of the public ; 
it certainly did not escape the attention of Louis 

From the Chateau de Ham, wherein he was im- 
prisoned, by sentence of the Chamber of Peers, he 
wrote to me the letter above-mentioned, in which he 
thanked me for not having wantonly insulted a fallen 
adversary, and expressed, in very affecting terms, a 
strong desire that I might make it convenient to come 
to him and stay at Ham for a few days. 

He was surrounded, at that time, with the only 
prestige which a true Republican may be willing to 
salute : he was unfortunate. His imperial pretensions 
had, as it were, vanished in the smoke of a wretched 


adventure. People were looking round for his party ; 
and he, bowed down, tried, condemned, denied by 
his partisans of that period, railed at by his servants of 
this day, was doomed to a lonely life in a gloomy 
fortress, with no other friend to whom he could un- 
burden his heart than his physician Dr. Conneau, and 
a chemist, named Acar. Res sacra miser. With the 
request of the prisoner, not of the prince, I complied ; 
he procured from the Home-minister a permission for 
me to enter his prison, and I set off to Ham. 

I knew of the Bonapartrst party something more 
than was generally known, owing to my acquaintance 
with Mrs. Gordon, the real framer of the conspiracy of 
Strasburg, in which two persons only cut a figure : she 
and Lieutenant Laity. Mrs. Gordon was a handsome 
woman, too much addicted to meddling, but warm- 
hearted, naturally eloquent, full of perseverance and 
courage. I have heard from her own lips that the 
conspirators of Strasburg wanting an old soldier whose 
rank and name might tell on the garrison, she hastened 
to Dijon, where Colonel Vaudrey lived, then in utter 
ignorance of what was going on, and so powerfully 
forced upon his hesitating mind the necessity of a 
prompt determination, that she hurried him away to 
Strasburg seance tenante, without, so to speak, allowing 
him time to put off his slippers. Her devotion to the 
memory of Napoleon was heedless and boundless, but 
she did not make much of the Bonapartist party, which 
she thought was deficient both in men of intelligence 
and energy, with the exception of MM. Laity, Aladenise, 
and Fialin. M. Fialin, who went by the assumed name 


of De Persigny, and who had chosen for his motto these 
two words "I serve" — Je sers, was,, in Mrs. Gordon's 
opinion, the pillar of the party. As to Louis Bonaparte, 
she did not make much of him neither. I remember 
that one day I asked her in jest whether she loved 
him. " Well," she said, with a smile, " I love him 
politically. To tell the truth, II me fait Veffet d'une 

These were the things I revolved in my mind, while 
getting near the end of my journey. 

The first person I saw at Ham was M. Acar. The 
political creed of M. Acar was a most heterogeneous 
jumble of Bonapartism and Republicanism. No one 
was more ready than he to dedicate himself to the 
service of Louis Bonaparte. Yet, he styled himself a 
Republican, and so he was in his own strange way. 
He seemed delighted at my arrival. 

" Here are," exclaimed he cheerfully, " auxiliary 
forces, and I hope Louis Bonaparte now will be soon 
conquered." Then he told me that the prisoner's 
friends were divided into very different classes ; one of 
which was headed by M. Persigny, and composed of 
fanatical partisans of the Empire; the other com- 
prising many a sincere Republican, like MM. Frederic 
Degeorge, Joly, Peauger, Lieutenant Laity, and him- 
self; that Louis Bonaparte, hauled about by the two 
contending factions, could not help vacillating ; that 
allowance ought to be made for the difficulty of his 
position ; that his intentions were upright, although 
they might possibly be perverted, if he were abandoned 
to the mischievous influence of his imperialist advisers, 


and that it was the duty of us all to prevent such a 
calamity. I gazed at him in astonishment, as I could 
hardly imagine that the establishment of the Republic 
should thus be made the consequence of the adoption 
by Louis Bonaparte of republican principles. 

However, having repaired to the Chateau, I was 
ushered into a large, neatly furnished room, where 
little seemed to be wanting cf what is required for 
domestic comfort. I at once perceived — let this be 
said to the credit of Louis Philippe — that the prisoner 
was very kindly treated. He sat in a high-backed arm- 
chair, between the chimney and a table spread with 
books and papers. As I entered, he rose, came forward 
to meet the expected visitor, and shook hands with me 
with a mingled expression of cordiality and reserve. 
My impression was that for a moment he thought of 
assuming a sort of stately countenance ; but he was 
almost instantly sensible of the mistake, did his best to 
appear easy and free, and we got into conversation. I 
had never seen him before. Nor was I enabled, at 
that time, to remark how different he was in his 
features, his manners, his deportment, from all the 
other members of Napoleon's family, whom I did not 
know. But it struck me that there was nothing in him 
of the Napoleonic type, that he spoke with a rather 
foreign accent, and that he had less command of lan- 
guage than any man I had ever-conversed with.* 

As long as the conversation turned on Louis Philippe's 
policy, we could not but agree. We concurred in 

* Immediately after my visit, I took notes of what bad passed between 
us, so as to be sure that my memory would not play me false. * 


thinking that a system would not last long, which was 
based upon corrupt practices at home and a permanent 
humiliation abroad. But when the question arose 
what the future should be, we began to dissent. 

As he professed to be a true democrat, and to acknow- 
ledge in full the principle of the sovereignty of the 
people : 

"How is this principle to be carried out, in your 
opinion ? " I asked. 

He answered unhesitatingly : " Through universal 

u Never was," said I, "universal suffrage more ardently 
advocated than by myself, as a principle. But the 
immediate practical results of its operation must be 
looked to with infinite care. You are certainly aware 
of the intellectual situation of the peasantry in France. 
You are aware that most of them abide in ignorance, 
and that, if we were to compute how many thousands, 
among the country-people do not even know how to 
read, the number would be something frightful. 
Besides, where there is a great inequality of social 
conditions, an independent vote is hardly to be expected 
from those who depend entirely on others for their 
daily bread and the maintenance of their families." 

" Do you mean," he interrupted, " that the national 
will is to be disregarded, and that you have a right, if 
powerful enough to do so, to impose your political creed, 
on the strength of your conviction, upon an unwilling 
majority ? " 

" I say nothing of the kind ; but I hold that universal 
suffrage must not be suffered to be a loaded pistol in 


the hands of a child. The sovereignty of the people 
does not imply the intellectual abdication of those 
capable of giving to their fellow-citizens, either by their 
speeches and their books, or by their example, an 
enlightened and generous impulsion. It is the duty as 
well as the right of all honest men to address them- 
selves to the task of bringing over the majority to them, 
so as to prevent the people from being foiled at their 
own weapons." 

" So be it." 

" Well then, it is not enough for you to acknowledge 
the sovereignty of the people, and to bow passively to 
universal suffrage. You must have, as a member of 
the whole, a clear notion of your intended initiative ; 
you must have, beyond your worship of universal 
suffrage, a political creed." 

Louis Bonaparte looked a little embarrassed ; but 
after a moment's silence : " My creed," said he, ' ' is the 
Empire. Was it not the Empire that raised the French 
nation to the summit of greatness and glory ? I am 
convinced that the destiny of the Empire rests on the 
national will." 

" But the Empire involves, I suppose, the hereditary 

" Yes." 

" And how is it possible to reconcile the principle of 
the sovereignty of the people with the hereditary prin- 
ciple ? These are contradictory terms. The latter is 
the negation of the former. The national will may, 
and it is conformable to the very nature of things that 
it should, change, whilst any hereditary power is theo- 


retically immutable. It is absurd that the national 
will of to-day should be called upon to destroy the 
national will of to-morrow, and that the sovereignty 
of the people should be forfeited by an act of the 
sovereignty of the people. The fact of embracing a 
man in order to strangle him has nothing to do with 
the acknowledgment of a principle : it would be a 
downright treachery. A democrat is of necessity op- 
posed to any hereditary form of government whatever. 
The sovereignty of the people is not, as a principle, 
to be confined to a given period. How could the present 
generation be allowed to confiscate the right of all the 
generations to come ? A compact of that sort is in its 
very essence null and void." 

Louis Bonaparte did not insist, as if conscious that 
he was playing a bad game, and there was a pause. At 
last, with an evident intention to turn off the conver- 
sation, "Well," he continued, " what you have just said 
may be true ; and the main point, after all, is that the 
government — form it as you like — should be intent on 
the improvement and the happiness of the people." He 
then began to speak about the urgenc}' - of social reforms, 
and as I went on expounding my own views on the 
subject, he seemed to chime in with me from the begin- 
ning to the end. In fact, if I had found him greatly at 
fault in his declaration of opinions, in a merely political 
point of view, I felt almost amazed at his readiness to 
adopt those very principles of Socialism which he made 
use of afterwards to become emperor, by terrifying 
the ignorant into voting away their liberties. I have 
still in my possession a copy of his book "Extinction du 


Pauperisme" which he composed in a strain of Socialist 
aspirations, and which he gave me, with two nattering 
lines written by himself on the first page. 

I had leave for a three days' stay. They were spent 
in marshalling all the various topics that had reference 
either to the general state of affairs or to the particular 
situation of the prisoner. 

Among the circumstances present to my memory, 
there is one which I think worth mentioning, as it 
serves to bring out into stronger relief the hard dis- 
position that was evinced by his subsequent conduct. 
One afternoon, he was telling me the particulars of his 
failure at Boulogne, when on a sudden his voice seemed 
to falter; he stopped, struggled a moment to repress 
a sob, and burst into tears. 

The next day, we went out to take a walk over the 
narrow rampart assigned to his melancholy promenade, 
which was watched, of course, on all sides by sentinels. 
Methinks I see him still, his head reclining, walking 
with slow steps, and speaking in a low voice, as if 
fearful lest the wind should bear every word he uttered 
to the gaoler. The conversation now was about the 
" History of the Roman Emperors," as written in a 
book which Louis Bonaparte admired very much, on 
account of the partiality shown by the author for 
those tyrants whom Tacitus branded with everlasting 
infamy. In Louis Bonaparte's opinion, Tacitus was in 
the wrong, and the modern author in the right. I had 
not read the book so warmly praised, but I was not at a 
loss to guess the secret reason why Louis Bonaparte 
praised it. So I took the opposite side of the question, 

K K 


in a somewhat excited manner, which called forth on 
his part a recommendation I little anticipated. " Pray, 
speak low/' he whispered, and turning round, he pointed 
to a man, who, wrapt up in a cloak, followed at a short 
distance, without losing sight of us. Louis Bonaparte 
does not remember now certainly, but I do, that he 
availed himself of the opportunity to expatiate on the 
wretchedness of that policy which needs a dark army of 
spies, takes root in the filthiest recesses of human 
nature, and glories in the very degradation of its 

My visit drawing near its close, I thought it my 
duty to make a last appeal both to his reason and to 
his heart ; I said to him : — ■ 

"Hemember the Empire was the Emperor. Can the 
Emperor rise again ? The march of time has made for 
us new conditions of life. The France of our days is 
no longer the France of fifty j^ears since. The idea of 
labour has outstepped the passion of battles. Other 
aspirations and other wants call for other institutions 
and other heroes. People have ceased placing their 
ambition in blindly putting on a uniform to go to kill 
and die. The question is no longer to rule and amaze 
men, but to render them good and happy. No, no ; 
Napoleon, should he rise again, would not repeat him- 
self. Could any one achieve with his name what he, 
in our days, could not do with his genius ? Were the 
Empire to revive, it would only be in the shape of 
a bloody meteor. Under the sway of your uncle, 
despotism was at least wrapt up in the purple mantle 
of military glory, and even this could not so well hide 


from the nation the direful skeleton, but she became 
horrified. Remember that France let Napoleon fall 
because his power had grown too heavy to be borne 
any longer. Had he not been abandoned by France, 
he would never have met his doom at Waterloo. Re- 
member how he died; remember where he died! 
Whether it be absolutely impossible to baptise in 
blood a new monarchy, and to maintain it for a time 
by surrounding Paris with soldiers, by smuggling spies 
everywhere, by gagging the press, by immersing 
France in the abject worship of the cash-box, and 
by restoring their worn-out liveries to senators and 
valets, is more than I will venture to say. But what 
would a sceptre be worth, held upon any such con- 
ditions ? Believe me, there is really nothing accept- 
able in France but a Republic, provided it be true to 
its principle, because the Republic is the only fit 
government for a nation in whose mind the revolu- 
tionary teaching of half a century has riveted the 
principle of equality. The Republic is the necessary 
survivor of whatever momentary despotism circum- 
stances may beget. Give up, then, that part of a 
Pretender for which you lack a stage. Trust your 
disinterestedness with the care of your destiny. Dare 
to become and to declare yourself a Republican." 

Not only did Louis Bonaparte lend an ear to this 
my language, but he seemed impressed by it to a 
degree scarcely* to he expected. When I took my 
leave of him, his eyes were moistened with tears, and 
he clasped me in his arms so eagerly that I could not 
help being moved. Descending the staircase, I heard 

K k2 


him cry out, with a laugh, as he stood on the landing : 
"Ah! ah! n'oubliez pas d'embrasser pour moi Madame 
Gordon," and so we parted. 

From the period of my leaving Ham, until Louis 
Bonaparte's liberation, he occasionally communicated 
with me through a mutual friend, on matters purely 
personal, but in a way calculated to give me reason to 
hope he would come to the manly resolution of de- 
claring himself Republican. This hope may be found 
expressed in a private letter of mine to him, which, 
when offering himself as a candidate for the Presi- 
dency, he published, without asking my permission, 
with a view to delude the Parisian workmen into 
voting for him. 

After his escape from Ham, our relations were com- 
pletely suspended. Nor did I see him when he came 
over to Paris at the time of the Revolution of 
February, and made so warm a tender of his services 
to the Republic, as represented by the Provisional 

The Assembly having met, there happened to be, for 
Paris, eleven vacancies to be filled up, owing to double 
returns on the occasion of the general election; and 
Louis Bonaparte came in almost at the bottom of the 
list, at the head of which figured the name of Marc 
Caussidiere. I have already stated how the Executive 
Commission was induced to bring in a decree for the 
maintenance of that law by which the Bonaparte 
family was not allowed to return to France, whilst I, 
from a sense of justice, of true policy, and entirely 
irrespective of any personal leaning, insisted upon all 



laws of proscription being cancelled." The result of 
my interference would have been to baffle his views by 
putting the Presidency beyond his reach, had my 
proposition been taken into consideration in all its 
bearings; but the Assembly having afterwards foolishly 
written in the Constitution that there should be a 
President of the Republic, his amazing fortune turned 
out to be the consequence of his being allowed to 
return to France, for which thus, by the most strange 
chain of unexpected circumstances, he was, in fact, 
greatly indebted to me. 

However, he had not yet availed himself of the 
decree which entitled him to go and take his seat in 
the National Assembly, when, ostracised myself after 
having done my best to save from ostracism both the 
Eonaparte and the Orleans families, I came over 
to London, where I arrived in the beginning of 

Louis Bonaparte was still living in England. 

Scarcely had I put up at the Brunswick Hotel, 
Jermyn Street, when a visitor was announced. It was 
Louis Bonaparte. He came to me in the most friendly 
manner, expressing how indignant he felt at the ini- 
quitous treatment I had experienced from men, whom 
I remember he spoke of with anything but kindness. 

This considerably embarrassed me. I could not 
repel the civilities he loaded me with, unless deter- 
mined to set all propriety at defiance; and, on the 
other hand, there were public grounds which prompted 

* See Chapter XVI. 


me to avoid having any connexion with him. That he 
detected this feeling, which I took no greater pains to 
conceal than was strictly requisite to keep within the 
bounds of good breeding, I have every reason to sup- 
pose, for he showed himself very anxious to impress 
me with the idea that he had no other ambition than 
to serve the Republic ; that he was heartily devoted to 
the cause of the people ; and that, on social questions 
especially, his opinions were, to a great extent, in 
accordance with my own. 

In the first of the celebrated letters of " An English- 
man," published in the Times, December 20, 1851, 
I read : — 

" If this man's (Louis Bonaparte) reign is destined 
to continue, even for a brief duration, the world will 
witness the most heterogeneous jumble of despotism 
and demagogy, of socialism and corruption, that history 
has ever chronicled. The bribery of Walpole; the 
theories of labour of Louis Blanc; the stock -jobbing of 
the worst days of Louis Philippe ; the ferocity of Alva ; 
* the deportations of the Czar ; the razzias of Algeria, 
will all meet in one marvellous system of anarchy that 
will be called Imperial Government/' 

With all due deference, both to the Times of 1851, 
and to the most eloquent author of the letters of " An 
Englishman/'' I am bound to decline the honour con- 
ferred upon me, by having my " theories of labour,"' 
ranked, in the Imperial programme, between the 
" bribery of Walpole/' and the " stock-jobbing of the 
worst days of Louis Philippe." To whatever extent the 
prophecy of " An Englishman " may have been fulfilled, 

louis Bonaparte's pretended socialism. 503 

I trust he will himself confess that his foresight has 
been at fault, as far as my " theories of labour " are 

Of the many measures the Imperial policy will have 
to account for, there is one only which can possibly be 
traced to any views of mine, it is that which refers to 
the system of direct and national loans, substituted 
for the ruinous practice of public loans through the 
medium of private bankers. Long ago, when at the 
head of a daily paper, the Bon Sens, I started the 
question which led to a public discussion between 
the celebrated banker, M. Jacques Laffitte and myself, 
a discussion that was carried on in the columns of the 
Bon Sens, lasted several days, and attracted consider- 
able notice. 

But, with this solitary exception, hardly imputable 
to anything else than a pressing want of money, Louis 
Bonaparte cannot justly be accused of having made his 
case worse, by adding the u theories of labour of Louis 
Blanc," or any other unpardonable sin of the kind, to 
" the bribery of Walpole, the stock-jobbing of the worst 
days of Louis Philippe, the ferocity of Alva, the 
deportations of the Czar, and the razzias of Algeria."* 

However this may be, the language held to me by 
Louis Bonaparte in London, was so far from implying 
the Empire, that, whenever I bring together what I 
heard then and what I have seen since, the impression 
produced on my mind is exactly that of a dream. 

Yet, even at the time I speak of, I placed no confi- 

* The Times of the 20th of December, 1851. 



dence whatever in Louis Bonaparte ; nor were any of 
the circumstances of his sojourn here, of a nature to 
inspire me with any such feeling. 

One day that I had gone to a dinner-party at Rich- 
mond, as I was returning home late in the evening — 
I was then living in Piccadilly — I found the house all 
in a bustle. The landlady, much excited, ran up to 
me, saying : " Sir, some serious event has just occurred 
in Paris, I suppose. How strange ! " On my inquiring 
what all this meant, " A young gentleman," she con- 
tinued, " called a few minutes ago, asking after you. 
I answered, of course, that you were not in; but he 
would not believe me. He looked in a state of extra- 
ordinary agitation, insisted upon the absolute necessity 
of seeing you immediately, and, despite all my remon- 
strances, rushed up-stairs, in order to ascertain whether 
you were really out ; which done, he seemed, at first, 
disposed to wait for you ; but, on second thoughts, he 
made up his mind to go, leaviug this." I took a card 
she was holding out to me, on which the following 
words were hurriedly w r ritten : " At whatever hour of 
the night you may come back, pray come to the Hotel 
du Prince de Galles, Leicester Square, without losing 
a moment. The affair at hand is of paramount im- 
portance, and admits of no delay." 

Such a kind of invitation, to such a public place, as 
may well be imagined, seemed to me very singular; 
and I felt very little inclined to comply with the 
mysterious request. Still, my curiosity could not 
fail to be awakened. The situation in France 
was then quite unsettled. Changes of some sort or 


other were expected from day to day. Perhaps, a 
communication of real importance had to be made to 
me : why not satisfy myself about it ? The urgency 
of the case appeared the more probable, from the fact 
of its being late at night, and a wild stormy night too. 
I went. 

At the appointed place, there stood in groups some 
strangers, whose busy gathering struck me at once as 
something very suspicious. I was immediately ushered 
into a room on the ground-floor, where I found myself 
in the presence of two persons, one of whom was an 
exceedingly young-looking man, and the other Louis 
Bonaparte. Without allowing me time to express my 
astonishment, the young man broke out into a desul- 
tory speech to the effect, that he had just come from 
Lille, where he had had a most decisive interview, he 
said, with some influential members of the Republican 
party there ; that the democratic leaders and the 
adherents of the Prince — " du Prince " — were playing 
into each other's hands ; in a word, that everything was 
ready, in France, for the triumph of the people, as 
represented by the nephew of the Emperor. One may 
well conceive what I felt. The age of the speaker, 
the place, the hour, the groups on the threshold of 
the hotel, and, above all, the nature of the communi- 
cation made to such a man as I was known to be, all 
this was so extraordinary, that I would not listen to 
one word more, that I would not stay one minute 
longer ; and I instantly retired, with a mingled feeling 
of indignation and amazement. The next day, Louis 
Bonaparte called upon me; he hastened to say how 


sorry he was for what had happened ; he affirmed that 
he had absolutely nothing to do with it, having been 
drawn to the " Hotel du Prince de Galles," in the 
same way as myself. But I had seen and heard more 
than enough to shrink from any farther intercourse 
with him, on whatever ground or pretext. Shortly 
after, he left for Paris; and, from that moment, he 
became personally as much a stranger to me as if I 
had never chanced to meet him. 

I can hardly advert to the stay of Louis Bonaparte 
in this country, without thinking of poor Count 
d'Orsay, in whom I found so warm a friend, that he 
could not have shown me more affection, had he been 
my brother. How far he blinded himself, at least 
for a while, as regards Louis Bonaparte, what services 
he rendered him, and in what manner those services 
were requited, is a matter of public notoriety. But 
this much I will say, that d'Orsay, with his fine 
intelligence and his generous heart, was not the man to 
make what he considered to be the honour and the good 
of his country, subservient either to his own private 
interest, or to any motive merely personal. There are 
in my hands many letters of his which he wrote to me 
from Paris, and all of them bear testimony to his 
unreserved disapprobation, both of the policy of Louis 
Bonaparte, and of the course taken by the parlia- 
mentary leaders of the Legislative Assembly. No 
man, for instance, saw with more indignation and 
contempt the sending of French soldiers to Rome, 
there to crush the Roman Republic. Here is a letter 
he wrote to me on the subject, which I am glad to 


publish, as it does honour to him in every respect. So 
thoroughly French it is in its style, that I prefer to 
give it in the original : 

" Ah, mon cher ami, — Si vous saviez combien je fais 
de mauvais sang dans ce sacre pays ! J'ai la France 
en moi, et j'ai beau me retourner de tous les cotes, 
je ne la vois pas. Vous vous etes imagine que j'allais 
gagner ici la gangrene politique, mais je suis vingt fois 
plus ici ce que j'etais a Londres. Oui, je suis de votre 
avis en tout ce que vous me dites dans votre lettre. 
Mais que vous semble de Petonnante imbecillite de 
Texpedition italienne? Cette fois-ci, les oies du capitole 
riront bien des Gaulois. La Republique se faisant le 
premier soldat du pape ! Je disais a Lamartine que 
la Revolution perdait sa virginite par cette interven- 
tion. Enfin, les betises s'entassent les unes sur les 
autres. Le diable emporte les imbecilles ! Seulement, 
il aura diablement a faire ! Au revoir. Mille amities 
de ces dames. Et croyez-moi toujours votre affectionne, 

" D' Orsay." 



Here terminates the narrative of tlie events in which 
I was called upon to take part. While retracing my 
steps in this rough and thorny path, it has been my 
endeavour to refrain from letting my feelings break 
out, and speak louder than my reason. If any bitter 
word has slipped uncontrolled from my pen, let it 
be ascribed to the involuntary revival of my past 
emotions ; for my heart is, at present, entirely free 
from bitterness. Protracted misfortune has inured me 
to patient hopes ; it has half-healed the long-bleeding 
wound of my wrongs. As strongly as ever do I hate 
violence and injustice ; but having been removed for 
so many years from the tempestuous scene of political 
conflicts, I have come to form a more placid judgment 
of my enemies, and more clearly to discern in their 
doings, what is to be imputed to prejudice — to igno- 
rance — to the impulse of the moment — nay, to motives 
deemed honourable, owing to the aptness of the human 
mind to disguise from itself the true nature of its 

Moreover, the sufferings I had to go through are as 
nothing, compared to those of so many victims of our 
civil discords. Nor did the men who treated so 


harshly my friends and myself escape a retribution, 
the fruit of their own acts • the persecutors having 
been persecuted; the proscribers, proscribed; and those 
who had trampled upon us, under pretence that 
" society ought to be saved" having been, precisely 
under the same pretence, trampled upon in their turn. 

How this occurred I will briefly state, not from any 
low feeling of triumphant revenge, but because the fact 
is pregnant with this solemn instruction, that no party 
is sure, when violating the eternal laws of justice and 
liberty, that the time will not come for it to stand in 
need of their protection. 

Amongst the various circumstances which led to 
Imperial despotism, one must be particularly mentioned 
as having exercised the most mischievous influence ; I 
mean the establishment of the league known in France 
as Rue de Poitiers. This league of the Rue de Poitiers, 
composed of all the leaders of the reactionist party, like 
M. de Montalembert, M. Thiers, &c, and respecting 
which Count d'Orsay once wrote to me from Paris : 
"La rue de Poitiers est le vrai cholera de Paris" 
opened, at the time of Louis Bonaparte's presidency, 
a subscription whose object, they said, was to "save 
society," and by means of which they succeeded in 
collecting nearly forty thousand pounds. 

This enormous sum was avowedly spent to a shilling 
in printing and circulating every variety of libels 
against Socialism. In these flying sheets, profusely 
distributed, and given away in every town, in every 
village, even to the remotest hamlets, whosoever was 
guilty of the crime of desiring any amelioration pro- 


iitable to the people, was christened " Communist ! " 
and to be Communist, in these libels, was to pant 
for the equal division of land and an Agrarian law, 
although the Communists, on the contrary, supported 
the principle of large farms ; — it was to advocate 
promiscuous concubinage, although the Communists 
earnestly defended the principle of marriage; — it was 
to aim at the overthrow of religion, although the Com- 
munists had laid down as the basis of their social 
economy the very moral of the Gospel; — it was to 
be men of violence and terror, although there were 
amongst them some who carried out their peace prin- 
ciples even to excess.* — A doctrine of the Com- 

* M. Cabet, for instance, who, from principle, was opposed to any use 
of physical force. 

As French Socialism has, in this country, been made a ' ' raw head and 
bloody bones" affair, which, in the eyes of a certain number of English- 
men, amounts to a sort of justification of the coup d'etat and its con- 
sequences, the following anecdote will do something, I hope, towards 
dispelling this absurd and mischievous misapprehension. 

I was, one day, discussing with Pierre Leroux, in presence of some of 
<yur common friends, the question of the moral lawfulness of war and 
physical resistance to oppression. I expressed the opinion that these were 
undoubtedly most deplorable evils, which it should be the greatest task of 
humanity to endeavour to suppress, but to which it would be necessary to 
have recourse in extreme cases, as long as the causes of oppression and 
war were not removed. Whereupon, Pierre Leroux contended that there 
were only two doctrines between which thoughtful men, friends of 
humanity, had to choose : that of Mahomet, which opposes evil by means 
derived, as the use of the sword, from evil itself ; and that of Zoroaster, 
which opposes evil merely by good. Of these, he said, the latter was his 
doctrine, and the only effective one, in the way of real progress. I then 
put this case to him: "You think yourself, surely, useful to your 
fellow-men by your writings, your ideas, your examples. Well, suppose 
you are in a position in which you must lose your life, or defend it against 
a murderous attack from some one you believe to be a monster, and whose 
very existence you are conscious is a curse to humanity ; what would you 


munists was, that all children, after having for a cer- 
tain number of years, nestled under their mothers' 
wing, should be admitted to enjoy the benefits of 
public education, at the expense of society, — a good 
education bestowed upon all being at least as much 
a matter of public concern as the maintenance of an 
army : on that doctrine the lying and monstrous accu- 
sation was grafted that the Communists were bent on 
destroying the family. They had described as the still 
distant but desirable result of the gradual improve- 
ments suggested by science, a social order, in which 
all the advantages to be derived from the practice of 
association should be made available, such as common 
rooms for reception, for recreation, for reading — on 
the principle actually carried out at the briinnen in 
Germany, at the thermal establishments in the 
Pyrenees, in the grand hotels of our cities, in the 
clubs of London ; — but in which, of course, every 
individual should preserve his independence, his per- 
sonality, the freedom of his affections, the choice of 
his friends, his own domestic interior, his own hearth, 
an inviolable sanctuary. Who could ever have ima- 
gined that this would be enough, and more than 
enough, for a text to the incredibly slanderous state- 

do?" He unhesitatingly replied : "It being known that I die for my 
principle, I should suffer myself to be killed, thoroughly convinced that I 
should thus serve my cause better than in any other way." — " Then your 
only means of opposing evil in such a case of self-defence would be . . ." 
he interrupted : "Martyrdom !" 

This is the Socialist leader whom Lord Normanby, speaking of his 
election as representative of the people for Paris, calls a "violent 
demagogue ! " 


nient that the Communists had in view I know not 
what abominable amalgam of confusion. 

Unfortunately, this unparalleled system of misrepre- 
sentation was promoted by two circumstances : First, 
by the complexion of the word Communism — an ex- 
pression deplorably selected, as it seemed to imply the 
idea of promiscuousness, and which was most rashly 
employed before its precise signification had come to 
the knowledge of the public; and, secondly, by the 
power of the traducers, compared with the feeble re- 
sources of the traduced. Two or three journals of a 
very limited circulation, a few books of a very confined 
publicity, this was all the Communists had to oppose 
to the most formidable propaganda of falsehood ever 

Irresistible, therefore, was the effect of those pam- 
phlets which, issued from the Rue de Poitiers, spread 
all over France like an inundation. Strange enough ! 
The word Communist, expressive as it was of a doctrine 
absolutely and essentially opposed to whatever, nearly 
or remotely, resembled Agrarianism, was made a 
synonym of Agrarian law. A powerful pauti de par- 
tageux was supposed to exist in the provinces. Many 
honourable but ill-informed men got sincerely alarmed. 
Others, clinging to old abuses, were glad to be sup- 
plied with a screen for their real and selfish fears. It 
was given out that the coming elections, in 1852, 
would be the signal for pillage and murder. 

Such gloomy forebodings, however insane, could 
not fail to secure the energetic support of the Bour- 
geoisie to the reactionists composing the majority of 


the Legislative Assembly, in their desperate war against 
all the last vestiges of the Revolution of February ; 
and they availed themselves of the circumstance, not 
only to destroy universal suffrage, but to disarm the 
people of Paris ; that is, to suppress the very force 
which, in case of a coup cfetat, might have effectually 
protected them. To fill the measure of suicidal 
blunders, it now only remained to put the army under 
the direct command of Louis Bonaparte. This being 
done, there was an end of the parliamentary system. 
Both the pretext and the means of " saving society " 
had been furnished to the President by the apostles 
of the great crusade preached, from the Rue de Poitiers, 
against the Socialists. What was the consequence? 
That Louis Bonaparte hastened to make use of his 
power to crush those from whom he had received it 
for other purposes j and that he proceeded to " save 
society/' after his own fashion, by crushing the Assem- 
bly, dispersing its members, gagging the press, tram- 
pling on a once self-dependent nation, substituting for 
the fear of unsifted ideas, the much less chimerical 
fear of the sabre, and creating an unmistakeably real 
system of permanent terror out of a bugbear ! 

" The engineer was hoist with his own petard." 

A few words more. 

It is now many years since I wrote at the conclusion 
of my History of Ten Years the following lines : — 

" God forbid that we should despair of our country. 
There are nations stiff and inflexible, as it were, who 
may not inaptly be compared to the heavy cavaliers 


of the middle ages, cased all in iron j those men were 
hard to wound through their thick armour, but once 
brought to the ground, they could not rise again. 
Very different is France, whose strength is combined 
with marvellous suppleness, and who seems ever 
young. What unexampled, indescribable fatigue has 
she not resisted I From 1789 to 1815 she has gone 
through fits of intestine wrath, and endured sufferings, 
and accomplished labours, sufficient to exhaust the 
most vigorous nation. Well, not only did she not 
die for all that, but in 1830, after fifteen years of 
apparent lassitude, her blood was found to have been 
renovated. And, indeed, France bears within her 
wherewith to astonish men under various and unfore- 
seen aspects. She is made to live many successive 
lives, always unexhausted and unconquerable. Why 
should we be discouraged ? The evil springs from an 
error that may be repaired. Will the Bourgeoisie per- 
sist in its infatuation? Can it possibly persevere in 
distrusting as an enemy the people which it is bound 
to guide and to defend? Those deceive, and are pre- 
paring to enslave, the Bourgeoisie, who urge it to 
this desperate course. It has been made over-afraid 
of the working-classes, better to be blinded to the 
sense of its real dangers. They are not so much at 
its feet as above and around its head. Let it look to 
this ! " 

These words contained two prophecies, the one of 
happy, the other of sinister import ; and both of them 
have been accomplished. In the first place, the Revo- 
lution of 1848 came to prove how much of life and 


energy there still remained in France ; and, again, the 
success of the coup d'etat of December was a direful 
demonstration of the perils and the calamities the 
Bourgeoisie was sure to bring upon itself, whenever 
induced to separate its cause from that of the people. 
Whilst the working-classes, insulted every day by the 
so-called " Saviours of Society" robbed of universal 
suffrage, and baptised "vile multitude" were taught 
to dread the impending dictatorship of General Chan- 
gamier as the most terrible scourge they had to dread, 
the middle-classes, on their side, shuddered at the 
looming image of the elections of 1852, and, flying 
aghast from an imaginary phantom of anarchy, reached 
the brink of a yawning abyss — the abyss of military 

So was the coup d 'etat of December made, not only 
possible but easy. There was no need, for its success, 
of deep calculation, of plans long matured and skil- 
fully framed ; there was no need of cleverness : the 
only thing required was that the man in whose hands 
all the forces of the State had been foolishly concen- 
trated, should be one of those men who are fettered 
by no scruple, trammelled by no respect for justice, 
and determined to shrink, in the attainment of their 
object, from no kind of violence. Now, thanks to 
French administrative centralisation, Paris once ma- 
nacled, France could not fail to be enslaved. 

Nor can the maintenance of the Empire to this day 
be ascribed to the skill of the Imperial ruler. It 
certainly requires a great deal of talent and a high 
intelligence successfully to govern a mighty nation, 


despite any such impediments as may be created by 
the liberty of the press, the fact of every political step 
being submitted to parliamentary control, the free and 
public discussion of all the schemes devised, the dis- 
closure of all the blunders committed, and the neces- 
sity of observing the laws of the country as well as 
the principles of justice. But where no such impedi- 
ments are to be dealt with, the task of governing is 
one to which the first comer is equal, provided he may 
have at his disposal a sufficient number of police spies 
and bayonets. In these cases, brute force supplies the 
deficiency of genius. Let, therefore, the low-minded 
worshippers of success kneel down before the Empire; 
let them call " a great man " him whose greatness 
consists in the permanent violation of all that is held 
sacred amongst men ; let them, after mistaking might 
for right, mistake also the power of the sword for that 
of the mind, and the efficiency of an unopposed will for 
the triumph of a keen intellect — pitiful as misconcep- 
tions of this kind may be, they are hardly to be won- 
dered at, so little are most men capable of forming a 
sound judgment of anything that glitters : 

" Through tatter' d clothes small vices do appear ; 
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, 
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks ; 
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it." 

But the time is not far distant, when, the play being 
over, the actors, stripped of their gilt fripperies, and no 
longer painted, will appear to all what they really are, 
and France also will appear what she really is. The 


increasing terror by which Louis Bonaparte is preyed 
upon, while spreading it everywhere, and his frantic 
efforts to prevent France from moving, speaking, 
whispering, breathing, are decisive proofs that he 
feels the ground quiver, that he sees it yawn. And 
who could, indeed, imagine that the genius of France 
is vanished, that her pulse has ceased to beat, that her 
lofty aspirations are for ever, or even momentarily, 
stifled ? No. She is forced into silence, but her 
silence is thoughtful. Beneath the icy surface, the 
stream flows uninterrupted. The lamp has been for 
a while put under a bushel, but it continues burning 



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DC Blanc, Louis 

270 1040. Historical revela- 

B52 tions 


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